A former Canadia Bank employee accused of stealing $2.7 million from the bank last year was tried by Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday. Former chief accountant Yet Sopheaktra, 30, was charged with breach of trust for theft of company finances, said presiding judge Kor Vandy. Sun Saonin, 33, the boyfriend of Sopheaktra, along with her mother, Chak Kimheng, 59, have also been charged as accomplices, along with former Canadia Bank ATM controller Leng Sunly, 34. “Sopheaktra and her boyfriend Sun Saonin are gamblers. They stole money from Canadia Bank to play games at a casino in Phnom Penh,” said Vandy, adding that all four were arrested on October 3. During the hearing yesterday, Sopheaktra admitted to withdrawing the enormous sum by creating two bank cards for Kimheng and three for her friend Tep Winchanthy, who remains at large. “I withdrew $2.3 million from Canadia Bank between March and October to buy land in Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Cham provinces. I spent the rest gambling in a casino,” she said, adding that she was solely responsible for withdrawing the cash.
A judge is set to decide the prison sentence on Feb. 4 for the former West Central Cooperative sales manager who pleaded guilty in October to a wire fraud charge for taking more than $479,000 worth of bribes from a Sac County farmer. Chad Hartzler, 46, of Ames, faces more than four years in federal prison as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. Hartzler has said that he took the bribes over the course of five years from farmer Bill Wollesen, of Lake View, in exchange for steep discounts on crop seed and other products. Hartzler was a gambling addict who used the money to bet on sports games, court records show. He allegedly admitted to a West Central attorney that Wollesen first offered him $2,000 cash to get a $6,000 discount on soybean seed in the spring of 2005. Wollesen allegedly made the offer after Hartzler told him about his gambling debts.
The number of crimes committed by casino dealers last year rose by 85 percent compared to 2012, according to figures provided by the Judiciary Police, which were recently revealed by the newspaper Tribuna de Macau. Compared to 2012, figures show that the overall number of cases involving casino workers rose by 34 percent, reaching 75 cases against the 56 registered the previous year. Alone, crimes perpetrated by casino dealers recorded an increase of 85 percent, totaling 50 people. Embezzlement and theft accounted for a large portion of these crimes. Embezzlement also tops the crime list perpetrated by casino employees – a crime category that saw an increase of 267 percent, reaching 33 cases. Cases of theft and misappropriation rose by 9 and 33 percent respectively. Regarding illegal work, only one case was recorded – the same number as the previous year. Other types of crimes slightly declined, such as usury (28 percent), swindling (40 percent), and abuse of power (no cases recorded by police authorities against one registered in 2012). An expert in crime, Spencer Li, explained that casino operators have become more aware of these issues. On the other hand, he added that the number of crimes committed by casino workers might in fact be even higher, as companies sometimes prefer to deal with such matters internally.
The NCUA issued an order Monday prohibiting a former credit union employee from participating in the affairs of any federally insured financial institution. Rhandy Tabar, a former employee of the $277 million UNCLE Credit Union in Livermore, Calif., was sentenced to five years’ probation after pleading no contest to the charges of grand theft and embezzlement. The first year of his sentence will be served in county jail. Tabar was ordered to stay away from UNCLE Credit Union and must start a gambling addiction treatment program. He must also pay restitution in the amount of $606,541.33. Violating a prohibition order is considered a felony offense punishable by imprisonment and a fine of up to $1 million.
A federal judge in upstate New York has sentenced a 30-year-old Florida resident to probation for laundering more than $8 million for a widespread illegal sports gambling operation. Michele Lasso was detained by immigration officials in Albany for deportation to her native Panama after sentencing Tuesday. U.S. District Court Judge Mae D’Agostino says Lasso helped authorities recover $7 million from foreign banks and the new mother spent the past year in home confinement, but her motive was greed. Lasso apologized. Defense attorney William Shepherd notes sports betting and managing bank accounts in various countries is neither illegal nor uncommon in Panama. The ringleader, 52-year-old Philip Gurian of Boca Raton, Fla., faces sentencing April 15. He has also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money.
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