‘Tong Tin’ Owner Arrested After Alleged $220,000 Check Bounced

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Phnom Penh Municipal Court in December 2021. (Ananth Baliga/VOD)
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The owner of a Phnom Penh unofficial savings scheme was arrested after a $220,000 check allegedly bounced when a member of the scheme tried to withdraw it, according to district police.

Long Rany, 35, who lives in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Keng Kang III commune, was arrested on January 21 by National Police and sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court on the same day, according to Boeng Keng Kang district police chief Phos Saravoun.

The arrest came via a court prosecutor’s order​ following a complaint from Chhim Pheary, the alleged victim of the bouncing check.

In the informal savings system known as tong tin, a group of people routinely pay into a pool of money. Every so often, one member is permitted to withdraw the entire amount based on a competitive bidding process.

On January 2, when Pheary tried to take her turn withdrawing the money, police said, she was supposed to receive a total of $320,000. But, Rany said she would first issue a check for just $220,000 and pay the rest later, according to Saravoun.

But when Pheary took the check to the bank later that day, it bounced. When Nary was arrested three weeks later, Pheary posted on Facebook that she had given Rany the chance to pay her back before complaining to authorities.

“I gave her one month for the negotiation to pay the money back to me but she refused not to. Now it is over. There is no more negotiation. Let the law solve this problem,” she wrote.

Police arrested Rany while she was driving in the BKK III neighborhood, Saravoun said. She is now in pretrial detention, but the police chief did not know where.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesperson Y Rin referred questions to the prosecutor’s spokesperson, who said he was outside the office for field work and could not provide further information. 

Last December, Oeun Molika, a former singer at Phnom Penh’s Rock Entertainment nightclub, was charged with financial crimes — and could face years in jail — over a tong tin savings scheme she claims went awry.

According to information from a Phnom Penh court, Molika was transferred to Prey Sar prison’s Correctional Center 2 on suspicion of violating the law on negotiable instruments and payment transactions.

The charges against her fall under Article 231, which carries sentences of one to five years in jail.

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