Cambodia PM’s opaque business network exposed

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Hun Sen family treeHun Sen, Cambodia’s Prime Minister for more than 30 years, and his extended family are in the center of a businesses network that owns or partly controls at least 114 private companies in Cambodia, spanning over 20 business sectors with a total share capital worth more than $200 million, a new report called Hostile Takeover: The Corporate Empire of Cambodia’s Ruling Family by London-based NGO Global Witness reveals.

The report basically says that Huns Sen rules the country and his family owns it. His rule has enabled his extended kinship to benefit from corruption, land grabs and even a $1-billion drugs empire, the paper claims.

About 90 per cent of the 114 firms have a member of the Hun family as their chairperson, director or shareholder with more than 25 per cent of the total stakes, the report stated, citing data from the Cambodian Commerce Ministry’s corporate registry. Many of the companies are said to have links to big international brands such as Apple, Nokia, Visa, Unilever, Nestle, Durex, Honda, Canon, LG Electronics, Lenovo-IBM and Electrolux.

They family members also hold key posts across the state apparatus – in politics, the military, police, media and charities – sectors that prop up the premier’s ruling party through propaganda, political donations or brute force.

The mentioned $200 million value of the businesses overseen by the Hun Sen family is only the official number, the report mentions. The true value is thought to be significantly higher, because “they are said to obscure their commercial interests behind fake names and within shell companies.”

According to Hostile Takeover, the family holds stakes in at least 17 trading companies, ten finance firms, ten hospitality and entertainment businesses, eight interests in both tourism and retail and seven in construction and real estate.

Their holdings also span energy, mining and agriculture and forestry, with six companies in each respective sector; media, where the family is linked to five companies; and transport, an area with five Hun-linked businesses. There are also interests listed in three telecom firms, including a stake in Viettel Cambodia, part of the Vietnamese-military controlled Viettel Group, which owns Metfone.

Global Witness also notes that the Ministry of Tourism has named Vital Premium Water – made by NVC Corporation, which is chaired by Hun’s daughter Mana – as the official water for all state ceremonies, according to Vital’s website. The family’s portfolio also includes three manufacturing companies, three legal firms, two gambling operators, two security outfits, interests in two special economic zones and a pharmaceutical venture.

Hun Sen and Bun Rany
Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany

“Hun Sen abused his position as prime minister to allow his relatives control of, or major stakes in, most of Cambodia’s major industries,” the report alleges.

“However, this is not just about the accumulation of personal wealth or specific links between Hun family members and particular companies – the Hun family’s domination of Cambodia’s public and private sectors has resulted in Hun Sen having near-total control over the country,” it added.

The report also states that the Hun family “includes a shady cast of characters.” According to the findings, among them were members once implicated in a $1-billion heroin smuggling operation, shoot-outs, a fatal hit-and-run and land grabs that have caused mass displacements and destitution among Cambodia’s rural poor.

Some observers say that the publication of the Global Witness report might have to do with opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s plans to compete in Cambodia’s general elections in July 2018 for the fifth time, trying to succeed Hun Sen. Rainsy, president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, has repeatedly accused the Hun Sen government of rampant corruption, nepotism and kleptocracy and warned of a political crisis in the country.

The spokesman for the Cambodian government, Phay Siphan, dismissed the Global Witness report as “baseless and false,” adding that the information it contains was “fake and the motive behind politically driven by networks against the prime minister, both inside and outside Cambodia.”

Download the full report here.

Hun Sen Khmer Rouge
Hun Sen as a Khmer Rouge battalion commander in the 1970s

Hun Sen
Hun Sen (63) is a former Khmer Rouge commander that later turned against the group and co-organised their overthrow together with the Vietnamese army in 1979. in 1985, he became prime minister, and when Cambodians voted him out in 1993, he refused to step down, remaining co-prime minister and establishing himself a prime minister again after a coup in 1997/98.

He is the longest serving autocratic leader in Southeast Asia. He publicly declared his intention to rule Cambodia until he is 74, which means until August 2026.

Cambodia
Cambodia, with a population of more than 15 million people and despite plenty of international aid flowing in, remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Today, some 20 per cent of the population is believed to live below the poverty line of $1.90 a day. Economic growth has been high over the past decade (more than 7 per cent annually) and has helped reduce poverty from a whopping 52 per cent in 2004, but per-capita income remains low and little is done to improve the education system, infrastructure and public healthcare, particularly in rural areas.

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hun Sen, Cambodia’s Prime Minister for more than 30 years, and his extended family are in the center of a businesses network that owns or partly controls at least 114 private companies in Cambodia, spanning over 20 business sectors with a total share capital worth more than $200 million, a new report called Hostile Takeover: The Corporate Empire of Cambodia’s Ruling Family by London-based NGO Global Witness reveals.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hun Sen family treeHun Sen, Cambodia’s Prime Minister for more than 30 years, and his extended family are in the center of a businesses network that owns or partly controls at least 114 private companies in Cambodia, spanning over 20 business sectors with a total share capital worth more than $200 million, a new report called Hostile Takeover: The Corporate Empire of Cambodia’s Ruling Family by London-based NGO Global Witness reveals.

The report basically says that Huns Sen rules the country and his family owns it. His rule has enabled his extended kinship to benefit from corruption, land grabs and even a $1-billion drugs empire, the paper claims.

About 90 per cent of the 114 firms have a member of the Hun family as their chairperson, director or shareholder with more than 25 per cent of the total stakes, the report stated, citing data from the Cambodian Commerce Ministry’s corporate registry. Many of the companies are said to have links to big international brands such as Apple, Nokia, Visa, Unilever, Nestle, Durex, Honda, Canon, LG Electronics, Lenovo-IBM and Electrolux.

They family members also hold key posts across the state apparatus – in politics, the military, police, media and charities – sectors that prop up the premier’s ruling party through propaganda, political donations or brute force.

The mentioned $200 million value of the businesses overseen by the Hun Sen family is only the official number, the report mentions. The true value is thought to be significantly higher, because “they are said to obscure their commercial interests behind fake names and within shell companies.”

According to Hostile Takeover, the family holds stakes in at least 17 trading companies, ten finance firms, ten hospitality and entertainment businesses, eight interests in both tourism and retail and seven in construction and real estate.

Their holdings also span energy, mining and agriculture and forestry, with six companies in each respective sector; media, where the family is linked to five companies; and transport, an area with five Hun-linked businesses. There are also interests listed in three telecom firms, including a stake in Viettel Cambodia, part of the Vietnamese-military controlled Viettel Group, which owns Metfone.

Global Witness also notes that the Ministry of Tourism has named Vital Premium Water – made by NVC Corporation, which is chaired by Hun’s daughter Mana – as the official water for all state ceremonies, according to Vital’s website. The family’s portfolio also includes three manufacturing companies, three legal firms, two gambling operators, two security outfits, interests in two special economic zones and a pharmaceutical venture.

Hun Sen and Bun Rany
Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany

“Hun Sen abused his position as prime minister to allow his relatives control of, or major stakes in, most of Cambodia’s major industries,” the report alleges.

“However, this is not just about the accumulation of personal wealth or specific links between Hun family members and particular companies – the Hun family’s domination of Cambodia’s public and private sectors has resulted in Hun Sen having near-total control over the country,” it added.

The report also states that the Hun family “includes a shady cast of characters.” According to the findings, among them were members once implicated in a $1-billion heroin smuggling operation, shoot-outs, a fatal hit-and-run and land grabs that have caused mass displacements and destitution among Cambodia’s rural poor.

Some observers say that the publication of the Global Witness report might have to do with opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s plans to compete in Cambodia’s general elections in July 2018 for the fifth time, trying to succeed Hun Sen. Rainsy, president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, has repeatedly accused the Hun Sen government of rampant corruption, nepotism and kleptocracy and warned of a political crisis in the country.

The spokesman for the Cambodian government, Phay Siphan, dismissed the Global Witness report as “baseless and false,” adding that the information it contains was “fake and the motive behind politically driven by networks against the prime minister, both inside and outside Cambodia.”

Download the full report here.

Hun Sen Khmer Rouge
Hun Sen as a Khmer Rouge battalion commander in the 1970s

Hun Sen
Hun Sen (63) is a former Khmer Rouge commander that later turned against the group and co-organised their overthrow together with the Vietnamese army in 1979. in 1985, he became prime minister, and when Cambodians voted him out in 1993, he refused to step down, remaining co-prime minister and establishing himself a prime minister again after a coup in 1997/98.

He is the longest serving autocratic leader in Southeast Asia. He publicly declared his intention to rule Cambodia until he is 74, which means until August 2026.

Cambodia
Cambodia, with a population of more than 15 million people and despite plenty of international aid flowing in, remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Today, some 20 per cent of the population is believed to live below the poverty line of $1.90 a day. Economic growth has been high over the past decade (more than 7 per cent annually) and has helped reduce poverty from a whopping 52 per cent in 2004, but per-capita income remains low and little is done to improve the education system, infrastructure and public healthcare, particularly in rural areas.

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