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Peng Heng bank scrutinised

The chairwoman and majority shareholder of a specialised bank in Phnom Penh will be removed from her position if convicted of money laundering offences in Canada, officials from the National Bank of Cambodia said yesterday.

Cambodian-born Lech Leng Ky, chairwoman and majority shareholder at Peng Heng SME Ltd – a specialised bank operating out of Phnom Penh – has been on trial in Montreal alongside her husband, Chun Sy Veng.

The pair are charged with allegedly processing drug money through what Canadian prosecutors have described as “a sophisticated money-laundering system”, Canadian daily The Globe and Mail reported last month.

Phan Ho, secretary-general of the NBC’s Financial Intelligence Unit, said yesterday that the case had drawn the attention of Cambodian banking authorities.

“We are going to conduct on-site investigation of Peng Heng after receiving the final decision of the court in Canada,” Phan Ho said.

“If they [Chun Sy Veng and Lech Leng Ky] are convicted, the NBC will take action. If Lech Leng Ky is guilty, she will be removed from being shareholder of the bank.”

We are going to conduct an on-site investigation of Peng Heng after receiving the final decision of the court

Phan Ho said that he believed Peng Heng’s other shareholders, Chun Justin and Chun Nelly, were the children of Lech Leng Ky and Chun Sy Veng and could be removed as shareholders as well if their parents are convicted. “It’s related because they are their children,” he said.
Nguon Sokha, director-general and spokeswoman at the NBC, said that the banking supervision department was also looking into Peng Heng. “If there is something in this case that is against the legal framework that requires the intervention of the NBC, then the banking supervision department will take action as required,” she said.

Lech Leng Ky and Chun Sy Veng previously ran the Credit Bank of Cambodia, which was closed down by the government in 1995 amid allegations of money laundering.

Despite this fact, Peng Heng received a specialised banking licence from the NBC in 2001.

John Brinsden, vice-chairman of ACLEDA bank, said yesterday that the regulatory requirements for starting a bank in Cambodia were far more rigorous now than in previous years.

“Such a person [as Lech Leng Ky] with a background like that, convicted or not, would have a much harder time getting approval for a banking licence” today, Brinsden said.

Pech Vannthoeun, general manager of Peng Heng SME,could not be reached for comment yesterday. He previously told The Post that Lech Leng Ky, a 70-percent shareholder, was not involved in the bank’s day-to-day operations.

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