A former singer at Phnom Penh’s infamous Rock Entertainment nightclub has been charged with financial crimes and could face years in jail over a tong tin savings scheme she claims went awry.
Oeun Molika, who has been selling lotions, clothes and food such as pickled chicken feet on Facebook, was arrested last week by military police, which posted a photograph of her at a desk with piles of cash.
She was formerly a singer at Rock, a nightclub run by tycoon Kith Meng’s brother Kith Theang that was shut down in 2019 in a drug bust. Theang was sent to jail in the bust, though he rarely appeared to be inside, missing court hearings as prison officials explained that he was out on health checkups.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesperson Y Rin said Wednesday that Molika had been sent to Prey Sar Prison’s Correctional Center 2 on charges of noncompliance under the Law on Negotiable Instruments and Payment Transactions.
The article under which she has been charged, 231, has punishments ranging from one to five years in prison.
Molika has amassed millions of Facebook followers — 2 million on her personal page and 1.4 million on her business account — to whom she pleaded innocence in video posts ahead of her arrest.
On November 22, she said in a video viewed by half a million people that she was the victim in a tong tin scheme gone wrong, but she would be paying people back as she was the boss.
Tong tin is an informal Cambodian savings scheme where members of a group regularly contribute interest payments, and periodically one member is allowed to withdraw the pot based on a bidding process.
“I have not cheated any tong tin member, and tong tin members have only cheated me. But I am the boss and I have to bear responsibility for it. … I will pay it all back but it will be in phases,” she says in the video, explaining vaguely that other members had claimed to have contributed thousands of dollars while only transferring $1 to the pot.
A video a week later says she is filing a case for fraud against the person who cheated her.
“I will not let them get away with it, because they have made my life miserable,” Molika says.
“I regret that I was careless in controlling the tong tin network. … This was hugely careless in my life and I cannot return back,” she says. “For the sake of my reputation, I have sold everything and there is nothing left. If you do not believe me, please come and check.”
As Molika was gaining in popularity on Facebook as an online seller, she posed for a photograph with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s sister Hun Sinath — who has also been embroiled in other social media spats.
Sinath spoke recently that she takes pictures with many public figures, and Molika’s tong tin has nothing to do with her, according to a video posted by Phnom News.
“Please stop chatting any further,” Sinath says in the video. “I would like to send a message to all 24 provinces and the municipality that I am not the boss of a tong tin with her, and I do not know anything about her.”