A Japanese man accused of stealing millions of dollars from elderly people through a shady investment scheme announced on Friday that he had penned a deal worth $4 million to build a factory to make mobile phone screens.
Ikou Konno, CEO of AAP International Cambodia Co, said his company had entered into a joint venture with Taitech Solutions, a Japanese producer of phone screens, to build a factory in Banteay Meanchey province.
The announcement came after a group of lawyers representing 45 Japanese investors held a press conference in Phnom Penh last Wednesday to accuse Konno of investment fraud. The lawyers alleged Konno was the ringleader of a $20 million condominium scam that targeted elderly Japanese citizens.
Konno, pleading his innocence at Friday’s news conference, said he, too, was a victim of the scam and that he planned on launching a defamation suit against the Japanese lawyers.
“They all gave up trying to reclaim their money, except me; I keep pressuring him to pay me back, and now he is trying to frame me,” he said.
Atsushi Osawa, president and CEO of Taitech Solutions, said the fraud allegations would not affect the two companies’ agreement. “We have already signed an MoU with each other on the investment, and the rumour has nothing to do with our investment this time,” Osawa said.
Construction of the factory is slated to begin in November, with manufacturing hoped to start in November 2015.
But Kor Samsarouet, governor of Banteay Meanchey province, said the local government had yet to see any official documents relating to a phone-screen factory.
“I have had unofficial meetings with Konno when he presented me the idea [and] I heard he was looking for two hectares of land. But so far, there is no official letter to me regarding the building of the factory,” he said.
Sarouet declined to comment on whether the local government would approve Konno’s plans.
The Japanese Embassy declined to comment on the factory or the fraud claims.