The government has ordered an investigation into the nation's privately-owned
shipping registry following the seizure of a Cambodian-flagged ship carrying
millions of dollars worth of cocaine on June 13.
French troops fired on
and intercepted the Winner in international waters of the west coast of Africa.
Authorities said the ship was carrying as much as two tons of cocaine worth $230
million. Only 100 kilograms was recovered after the crew reportedly threw the
bulk of the illicit cargo overboard.
Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Nam
Hong told reporters on June 17 the ship had been traveling from Latin America
when it was intercepted in the joint US-French operation. Approval to board was
given by Prime Minister Hun Sen on June 7.
Nam Hong said the government
would investigate the Cambodian Shipping Corporation, which is a Singapore-based
company that won the concession to register ships under the Cambodian flag in
CSC chairman Khek Sakara, a grandson of King Norodom Sihanouk,
issued a statement on June 17 saying his company was cooperating with relevant
"Data on ships are made readily available to other
administrations for purposes of intelligence gathering or investigations," the
statement read. "The registry has been continuously cooperating with other
international authorities to prevent the illegal use of Cambodian
The foreign minister accused the register of being reckless for
allowing ships to fly the Cambodian flag without proper inspections or controls.
The government, he said, would press ahead with plans to audit the registry,
plans that were in place prior to the seizure of the Winner.
State for the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Ahmed Yahya, said he had
not been informed of the investigation. Cambodia had no law to regulate the ship
registry business, though a draft law was with the Council of Ministers and
would come to his ministry in the next few weeks.
It has been a bad year
for CSC, which has been criticised by maritime bodies, including the
International Transport Federation and the International Chamber of Shipping,
for its poor record.
Lloyd's list, which monitors shipping accidents
worldwide, recorded 13 cases last year where Cambodian flagged ships were
involved in serious accidents.
In May Cambodian authorities sought entry
to the International Maritime Organization's white list. Officials here said the
IMO rejected it saying further reform was needed to meet entry
More than 450 ships have been registered by CSC, most in the
past three years. The Winner was first registered in Cambodia as the Amir One in
March 1999, but its name was changed in November last year when it was sold by
Amir Shipping to Chariot Marine. Both companies are registered in the Marshall