Briefs: Monkey Farm Denies Wrongdoing, Check-Bouncing Businesswoman Charged

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Monkey cages line around 300 warehouses at Vanny Bio Research. (Tran Techseng/VOD)

Monkey exporter Vanny Bio-Research said it would “stand firm by its business model” and denied a U.S. court indictment that it was shipping thousands of endangered wild macaques overseas.

Charges have been brought against six of the company’s senior staff for conspiracy and smuggling. A Cambodian Agriculture Ministry official was arrested in New York last week in the case, and Cambodia’s Forestry Administration director has also been indicted.

The U.S. court accused the company and officials of bringing thousands of wild long-tailed macaques into Vanny Bio-Research’s farms and passing them off as captive-bred for export.

But the company “strongly denies any wrongdoing(s) in the operation of its business,” it said in a press release posted online by the Khmer Times Wednesday.

It had been exporting captive-bred macaques since 2005 for scientific and academic research, and had complied with international laws and raised the monkeys in humane conditions, it said.

Long-tailed macaques had recently been reclassified from “vulnerable” to “endangered,” making captive breeding sites “more important than ever to ensure a sustainable future for these animals,” the statement said.

Workers at the company’s Pursat farm, however, have spoken of wild monkeys allegedly being brought into the facility, while the mountains nearby are known for monkey hunting.

— Michael Dickison

Check-Bouncing Businesswoman Sent to PJ Prison

A real estate entrepreneur has been placed in pretrial detention on charges of writing checks with insufficient funds.

A detention order issued on Tuesday says Pich Sreymom, 35, is charged under Article 231 of the Law on Negotiable Instruments and Payment Transactions. Writing a check without sufficient funds carries a punishment of one to three years in prison and a fine between 2 million and 6 million riels, or about $500 to $1,500.

Sreymom will be placed in pretrial detention at Phnom Penh’s PJ Prison, according to the order.

Sreymom, the head of Pich Sunshine KH Realty, has promoted deals with larger developers such as Hun To’s Lixin Group and Golden Cambodian Century Group. The latter, also known as GC City, developed Soho Mall near the NagaWorld casino in Phnom Penh.

Sreymom was previously arrested on May 4 for allegedly writing a fraudulent check for $776,000 to another real estate entrepreneur, Lim Hour Nito, according to Phnom Penh police. She was arrested in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Keng Kang I commune at the time.

The latest detention order notes that Sreymom has no prior convictions. It is unclear what happened in the previous case.

The order says Sreymom was born in Takeo province and now lives in Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov district.

Pro-government news website Fresh News said the woman was also facing other complaints filed to the military, police and courts.

— Mech Dara

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