Pair from dubious firm charged

phnompenhpost.com 21-Dec-2010

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Photo by: Sovan Philong
Ray C Dam (left), chairman of ARP-OITC Group, enters Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.

Two men from a local property firm raided by police last weekend were charged with forgery by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday after allegedly fabricating documents claiming ties to the United Nations, the United States government and HSBC Bank.

Municipal Court deputy prosecutor Sok Roeun said Ray C Dam, the chairman of ARP-OITC Group Co Ltd, and Soush Saroeun, the firm’s executive managing director, had been charged with forgery under Articles 626, 627, 628 and 629 of the Kingdom’s new penal code, which went into effect this month.

“We have transferred the case to an investigating judge for further examination of these charges,” Sok Roeun said.

Article 629, which relates to forging government documents, carries a jail term of between five and 10 years. The combined charges carry a maximum sentence of 16 years in prison.

The case follows an October report in The Post that investigated ARP-OITC and its parent company, the “Office of International Treasury Control”, questioning the groups’ grandiose alleged credentials and raising concerns over possible fraud. OITC officials have previously been implicated in financial scandals in Ecuador, Fiji and the United Kingdom.

Dam and Soush Sarouen were arrested on Saturday at Dam’s luxurious home in Daun Penh district, where police confiscated OITC documents and Dam’s four Lexus cars. Two foreigners were arrested along with the pair, though these men were later released, said Rin Savoeun, deputy chief of the internal security department at the Ministry of Interior.

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said on Monday that Prime Minister Hun Sen had “ordered investigation into this case last month after learning that [Dam] had pretended to be an advisor to [Senate President] Chea Sim and used that title to grab land in Banteay Meanchey province”. The government “welcomes” the indictments against Dam and Soush Sarouen, Khieu Kanharith added.

Dam has been locked in a land dispute with Lay Saran, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces in Phnom Srok district, over seven hectares of land in the district.

Mey Vann, director of the financial department at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said his ministry had filed a complaint against ARP-OITC after learning that the group was operating without a real estate license despite billing itself as an “international real estate consultancy”.

Keith Scott, the OITC’s “chief of cabinet”, said in an email on Sunday that he was not involved in ARP-OITC’s operations in Cambodia, though he defended Dam, who is identified on the OITC website as owner of the “Global Debt Facility” and “sole arbiter ... of the Tripartite Gold Commission, established under the Bretton Woods Agreement”.

“This does not appear to be a matter that questions the institutional and international authorities of Dr Dam,” Scott said. “Those I know to be genuine.”