Anti-Drug Officer Arrested for Defrauding Villagers in Loan Scheme, Tong Tin

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A police van drives out of the Supreme Court gates on January 12, 2022. (Ouch Sony/VOD)
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The Kandal Provincial Court charged a drug police officer with allegedly defrauding at least 18 families out of almost $200,000 in a loan scheme.

Thouk Chenda, a 32-year-old officer from Boeng Krom commune police in Kandal’s Lvea Em district, was charged with fraud on Sunday and sent to pretrial detention after 18 families filed a complaint against her, said Ek Sunreaksmey, spokesperson for the Kandal Provincial Court’s prosecution. She faces a penalty of up to three years in jail and a court fine of 6 million riels, about $1,500.

According to a complaint dated October 14 seen by VOD, 18 families from the commune’s Boeng Krom Krom village alleged Chenda failed to repay almost $200,000 to the group, borrowing between $4,000 to $78,000 from each family.

The complaint said that Chenda asked villagers to lend her money to pay off debts and buy land in 2020, promising to return the money in five to 10 days. Chenda owed the villagers more than $140,000 plus 214 million riels — a total of about $192,000 — the complaint said.

Chenda continuously stalled repaying the loans, and villagers sent a complaint to the Interior Ministry in May. The ministry then ordered Chenda to respond to the complaint by September, but she did not, the complaint added.

Ya Phalla, who signed the complaint, told VOD that Chenda had borrowed a total 61 million riel, or about $15,000, from her family. She lost her livelihood in the process, she said, noting she had sold her pigs for 12 million riel, or about $3,000, to contribute to the loan.

“We decided to lend the money because her family is from the police. … Her brothers and sisters are police as well and work in the bank, so we thought they would not cheat us,” she said.

“I had borrowed from the bank [to give her the loan], and now I’ve become even more indebted to the bank,”  she said. “I have no capital to do business. We have to do whatever we can.”

Phalla said she joined a protest in front of the Interior Ministry on Friday, but she alleged that there were more Boeng Krom residents who lost money to Chenda but didn’t sign onto the complaint.

“They were afraid of this and that because they are police, so they did not dare to come forward, but the 18 families dared to come forward and let it be.”

Her sister, for instance, allegedly lent more than $70,000, selling some of her land to contribute, Phalla said.

She added that Chenda also led a tong tin — an informal lottery-like loan system that offers contributors a chance at the combined savings.

No one ever signed a loan agreement or any other document detailing money borrowed by Chenda, Phalla said.

“Some of them [who did not come forward] lost $20,000, $30,000, $50,000 or $10,000 … and there were also many other people who played tong tin with her. In short, it involved people in the whole village.

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