Cross at your own risk

May 30th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Since he began making the perilous journey to Thailand to log rosewood 10 years ago, Sao Sophon* has had plenty of time to calculate the cost of dying.

“When we cross the border to Thailand, our lives are equal to $80 or $90, because that is the amount we can earn for each trip. If the Thai soldiers shoot us, that is what our lives are worth,” Sophon said.

Sitting on the back of the large two-wheeled cart that he pulls from Oddar Meanchey province into Thailand, Sophon, the head of an illegal logging cartel, told the Post that the hunt for lucrative rosewood leads loggers on a gruelling four-hour trek over the sprawling Dangkrek Mountains and into neighbouring Thailand. …

May Titthara and Alice Cuddy

Gov’t adviser files suit against fraud accusers

May 30th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

The man accused of leading a multimillion-dollar scheme in which hundreds of mostly elderly Japanese investors lost thousands of dollars in fake real estate projects in Cambodia has filed a defamation suit against the lawyers who made the accusation.

Ikuo Konno, 58, who is the CEO of local development company AAP International Cambodia Co. Ltd. and an adviser to Deputy Prime Minister Ke Kim Yan, said Thursday that he filed suit against Japanese lawyer Egawa Go as well as his associates for defamation and malicious denunciation. …

At the press conference, the lawyers distributed a document stating that through fact-finding during civil proceedings in Japan, Mr. Konno was revealed as the mastermind of the scheme and that most of the money stolen from the victims has already been transferred to Cambodia.

The lawyers said they represented 45 out of 99 victims in Japan who have been swindled. The total damage being claimed by the 99 victims is $20.1 million. …

Khy Sovuthy

Lawyers call for arrest of investment scammer

May 29th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Lawyers for 45 Japanese in­vestors who lost thousands of dollars in fake real estate projects in Cambodia called Wednesday for more victims to come forward in an effort to pressure the Cambo­dian government to arrest the scheme’s ringleader, who they say still lives in the country. …

They said the scheme has been going on since 2012 and that Jap­anese police have been investigating the case since last year. They also said the scam’s ringleader, Ikuo Konno, lives in Cambodia, and called on local authorities to take action to arrest him. …

“The fraud case has been happening since 2012 with the ringleader, a Japanese man Ikuo Konno,” said Mr. Isao at the press conference. “According to witnesses, people said that Mr. Ikuo Konno lives in Cambodia now, and Ikuo Konno also an­swered before a Japanese court that he lived in Cambodia and had accepted Cambodian citizenship in 2013.”

Mr. Konno appears to be the CEO of a local development company called AAP International (Cambodia) Co. Ltd. AAP’s website says that the company relocated its operations to Cambo­dia—though it is unclear when or from where—and that the country offers a prosperous business climate. …

Khy Sovuthy

Borey River Town developer eyes second, $100 million property investment

May 29th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Following the success of Borey River Town, the investor behind it has announced plans to inject $100 million into developing a new project.

General manager Teng Rith says that construction of Borey River Town is now 50 per cent complete, with some 80 per cent of the units already sold.

The company is now contemplating investing $100 million in a new 25-hectare property development near Borey River Town that will be both residential and commercial, Rith says.

The construction of Borey River Town has been carried out with an investment of $20 million.

The river town comprises 26 twin villas, five single villas and 60 flats. …

Siv Meng

De Castle Royal partners with The Place for first-class gym workout

May 29th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

The management of the 32-storey De Castle Royal condominium project in BKK1 has announced that the The Place, widely regarded as Phnom Penh’s only independent five-star gym, will manage the development’s fitness centre.

This means the air-conditioned De Castle Royal gym will be fully fitted out with state-of-the-art equipment supplied by Italy’s Technogym, which Alexandre Vessella, The Place’s gym manager, described to the Post in an interview late last year as “the best sports equipment brand on the market”.

The Place will also manage De Castle Royal’s 25-metre swimming pool, says property manager Nimol Mam, who adds that the pool will be built to the same dimensions as the one at The Place, which is located at No 11 Street 51, and will also include a poolside garden. …

Post Staff

Grand Twins again delays bourse listing

May 29th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Grand Twins International (Cambodia) Co. Ltd., a Phnom Penh-based manufacturer of clothes for U.S. athletic brands, has again delayed its listing on the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX), officials said Wednesday.

The company was expected to list Thursday, but technical problems prevented it from doing so, according to Kuy Vat, chairman of Phnom Penh Securities (PPS), the underwriter for Grand Twins. …

Grand Twins was originally scheduled to list May 8 but in mid-April, PPS issued an announcement that said the date was pushed to Thursday. It offered no explanation.

No announcement had been made on the PPS website Wednesday, but a large banner displayed the results of Grand Twins’ book-building process, which records investor demands to determine the price for an IPO.

It lists Grand Twins’ final price as 9,640 riel, or about $2.41.

When it does list, Grand Twins will be the second company on the bourse and the first private company trading shares. …

Hul Reaksmey

Ocean garment workers on strike after factory halts operations

May 29th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

About 1,000 workers protested outside Ocean Garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district on Wednesday to demand compensation for being out of work while the factory suspends its operations for a month due to flagging demand from buyers, a union leader said.

Workers have been protesting since Saturday after the factory announced it would suspend production from Monday until June 26. …

Mech Dara

Construction, sales of Casa Meridian to get under way this weekend

May 29th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

The Hong Kong-invested Casa Meridian project plans to launch sales and start construction at the end of this month.

Casa Meridian is a skyscraper condominium development on Diamond Island (Koh Pich), which developers there hope will become a modern commercial and residential area of Phnom Penh by the end of 2017.

Casa Meridian sales manager Om Ban An said the company would launch sales and start construction on Saturday. …

Siv Meng

ADB lends 75 mln USD to Cambodian bank to support small firms

May 28th, 2014 , Xinhuanet News

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Wednesday signed a 75 million U.S. dollars loan with Cambodia’s largest bank, Acleda Bank, to address the rising financing requirements of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSME) in the country.

The agreement was inked between Christine Engstrom, director in ADB’s Private Sector Operations Department, and Acleda Bank’s president and CEO In Channy. …

Xinhuanet News Staff

Australian firm bets on Bavet

May 28th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Australian-listed Cell Aquaculture (CAQ) – a onetime a marine technology company – has purchased a casino on the Cambodia-Vietnam border in a bid to generate much-needed revenue after nearing bankruptcy in 2013.

On May 26, CAQ announced in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange that it had hosted a soft opening for the Roxy Casino, which is located 200 metres from the border crossing in Bavet town, after a full renovation and refurbishment of the once-defunct operation. …

Eddie Morton

Foreign currency deposits see strong growth

May 28th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Foreign currency deposits grew briskly during the first four months of the year, a sign that public confidence in Cambodia’s financial institutions is high despite the uncertainty after last year’s disputed national election, bankers said this week.

Cheam Teang, executive vice president of Acleda Bank Plc., said the bank’s foreign currency deposits increased more than 85 percent year-on-year—from $120 million in the first four months of 2013 to $225 million during the same period this year. The main currencies being deposited are U.S. dollars and Thai baht. …

At Malaysian-owned CIMB Cambodia Bank, foreign currency deposits grew from $153 million in the first four months of 2013 to $221 million in the first four months of this year, according to Heng Vuthy, the bank’s head of strategy and finance. …

Bun Than, CFO of Sathapana Limited, a member of the Cambodia Microfinance Association and one of the seven microfinance institutions that accept deposits, said foreign currency deposits are flowing in at a faster pace.

The MFI saw a 27.5 percent increase in the first four months from $80 million in 2013 to $102 million in 2014.

Jayant Menon, lead economist at the Asia Development Bank’s regional economic integration office, said an increase in foreign currency deposits can be beneficial for the economy if properly monitored.

“An increase in the money supply can spur demand and spending, which can boost growth, but can also lead to inflationary pressures if left unchecked,” he said. …

Kang Sothear

State regulator warned Smart over luring qb subscribers

May 28th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

The Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) last week warned mobile operator Smart that it could face legal action for attempting to lure customers away from rival operator qb, and ordered Smart to resolve the issue “immediately,” according to a letter from TRC to Smart’s CEO obtained Tuesday.

The letter, dated May 19 and signed by TRC chairman Mao Chakrya, was sent the same day the Phnom Penh Municipal Court ordered Smart employees and partners to cut off contact with qb customers, and to cease advertising aiming to lure subscribers away from qb. …

Qb has accused Smart of damaging its reputation and financial interests after the two firms agreed to terminate a long-standing agreement that allowed qb customers to tap into Smart’s network when they were roaming. Before the termination agreement was carried out, qb began receiving calls from customers who said that Smart was contacting them to switch to Smart’s network. …

The letter goes on to say that Smart violated sections of Prakas 206 on network interconnection, which regulates domestic roaming agreements. The letter tells Smart to immediately stop luring qb customers and damaging qb’s reputation. …

A source with direct knowledge of the proceedings, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Tuesday that qb will pursue civil and criminal charges against Smart because the larger operator had “jeopardized qb’s total shareholder investment,” which is estimated at more than $120 million. …

Smart CEO Thomas Hundt declined to comment Tuesday. Michael Fitzpatrick, qb’s chief marketing officer, said qb is waiting to hear from Smart before making its next move. …

Joshua Wilwohl

NGOs lobby China, companies over Sesan dam

May 28th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

A group of 15 local and international rights groups Tuesday sent a slew of letters to the Chinese government and companies involved in the Lower Sesan II hydropower dam in Stung Treng province seeking a halt to dam construction due to serious environmental and social impacts already being felt by local communities. …

“As one of the most damaging tributary projects in the Mekong River Basin, the Lower Sesan II Dam’s effects on biodiversity, food security, livelihoods and agriculture will be felt not only in Cambodia, but across the entire Lower Mekong region,” said Ame Trandem, the Southeast Asia Program director for International Rivers, in a statement announcing the letters had been sent. …

Meach Mean, coordinator of the 3S Rivers Protection Network, said there is deep concern that widespread illegal logging and unlawful fishing activities are occurring beyond the designated construction zone for the Sesan II. He added that previous letters sent to the Chinese Embassy and the companies involved had gone unanswered. …

Simon Henderson

Northeast primed for colonisation: Rainsy

May 28th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Cambodia National Rescue Party president Sam Rainsy yesterday called on residents in the northeast provinces to defend their land lest the area be turned into a Vietnamese “colony”.

Rainsy’s comments were quickly condemned by both the Cambodian and Vietnamese governments.

Speaking to hundreds of people in Mondulkiri and Ratanakkiri provinces yesterday as part of a wide-ranging tour to meet supporters, Rainsy said the government has granted thousands of hectares of land to private companies that are Khmer in name only and really belong to Vietnam. …

Meas Sokchea

Villager travels to Parliament over land row

May 28th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

A representative of villagers involved in a land dispute in Mondolkiri province appealed to the government Tuesday to address their displacement after their shelters were destroyed by police and soldiers in a forced eviction Monday.

Chan Rithy stood outside the National Assembly in Phnom Penh on Tuesday with a letter he said he wanted to deliver to National Assembly President Heng Samrin calling for the release of two village representatives he said were wrongly arrested on the same day as the eviction. …

“We have many documents involved with the dispute and we want the National Assembly to know about the dispute with the company,” Mr. Rithy explained. “The authorities cooperated with the company to evict the villagers from their homes and took the land to give to the company without providing compensation.”

He said another village representative, who was arrested with her husband, was wrongly accused of having illegally sold families plots of land on the disputed rubber plantation. …

Sam Nhor, a village representative, said that at least 100 families from the Banong, Prov, Tumpuon and Kreang indigenous groups “have lived in this area since their grandfathers’ generation.”

Ben Sokhean

PAL still keen on Cambodia Air venture

May 27th, 2014 , Business Mirror

FLAG carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has not lost its interest in pursuing a joint-venture agreement with Royal Group of Cambodia (RGC) to establish Cambodia Airlines Co. Ltd.  PAL President Ramon S. Ang confirmed that his airline’s discussions for investment in the Cambodian carrier are ongoing, as he noted that delays were caused by the political issues hounding Cambodia earlier this year.

“It was just delayed by a bit because of the ongoing events there,” Ang said.  The airline was supposed to finalize the planned joint venture with Inter Logistics (Cambodia) Co. Ltd. (ILC) on July 15, 2013. This was later moved to October 15. But the signing didn’t happen as elections took place in Cambodia.  PAL expects to pour in $10 million for a 49-percent stake in Cambodia Air, which is currently 100-percent owned by ILC. RGC’s Neak Oknha Kith Meng, in turn, owns ILC.

The flag carrier was prepared to make a $1-million downpayment upon completion of closing conditions last year. The remaining $9 million would be paid upon a call option by the board of Cambodia Air. …

Lorenz S. Marasigan

CSX gets help from Thailand

May 27th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX) will partner with the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) to bolster technical knowledge and potential investment into Cambodia’s nascent stock market.

An agreement between the two financial institutions was signed in Phnom Penh yesterday at the CSX office, a deal that will see the SET provide training courses for CSX staff as well as information sharing between the two exchanges, according to Lamun Soleil, deputy director of market operations department at the CSX. …

Hor Kimsay

More business with Oz sought

May 27th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday urged Cambodia and Australia to increase trade ties and encouraged greater investment from the Pacific country.

Speaking at a seminar in Phnom Penh to mark the 40th anniversary of ASEAN-Australia relations, Soeung Ratchavy, secretary of state at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said that in the wake of a recent fall in overall trade, the two countries should set higher targets for their economic relationship. …

Chan Muyhong