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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Dead fish and gambling chips

Dead fish and gambling chips

S TAFF at one of Phnom Penh's glitzy casinos got the first whiff of some dirty

money that has been smuggled into Cambodia from a cash heist at Hong Kong

airport in 1991.


A gambler - who presumably has been captured on the casino' s security videos

- lost about $70,000 on the baccarat tables one night recently.


casino staff in the cashiers office could not stay in the same airtight room as

the money for too long - it smelt bad, like dead fish.

Exactly like dead


Upon close inspection, they saw that the money had been laundered,

literally washed in water and dried in a vain attempt to clean it of its smell.

The money was laid out on a table and one enterprising staff member sprayed it

with "cheap men's cologne" - but even that was not good enough.

When the

casino went to deposit the cash the next day, bank staff turned up their noses

and called the police. According to sources, police investigators asked for a

"sample"- $10,000 - to have with them as "evidence" to begin their inquiries.

Local papers have reported the source of the cash, which was confirmed

by police to casino management. A $17-million "job" was pulled at Hong Kong's

Kai Tak International airport in July 1991. $15 million of it was in $100 bills,

the rest in smaller denominations.

Police now think they know how at

least some the money made its way to Cambodia - though no-one will say whether

all of the $17 million is here.

"Even (the police) think it was hidden in

a fishing boat," said one casino source.



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