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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Vathana ‘partner’ no fan of prime minister

Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana, whose alleged co-investors in an offshore-incorporated company have a history of fraud and ruling party opposition.
Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana, whose alleged co-investors in an offshore-incorporated company have a history of fraud and ruling party opposition. Heng Chivoan

Vathana ‘partner’ no fan of prime minister

A notorious fraudster with whom Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana allegedly had a business relationship has turned out to be a violent critic of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

A 2007 register for offshore-incorporated RCD International, obtained by the Post this week following the Panama Papers data leak, lists Vathana, who was previously a member of Hun Sen’s cabinet, and Ray Chhat Dam as major shareholders with 5,000 and 22,000 shares respectively.

Dam, who has been linked with a series of scams, was arrested with another shareholder, Dr Soush Saroeun, in 2010 for allegedly forging a letter of credit from HSBC, impersonating a UN agency and claiming Dam was an adviser to US presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama.

RCD International was dissolved in 2010 and since then, Dam has posted a series of anti-ruling party messages on his Facebook page. Yesterday, he posted images calling on the Vietnamese government to “take action” against Hun Sen, whose first name he twists into a pun on an offensive Khmer word.

RCD International’s second-largest shareholder, Dr Lek Bopha, also has ties to the government. His brother, Lek Sambonn, confirmed yesterday that Bopha was previously a cabinet adviser, and Sambonn heads a charity that has counted Information Minister Khieu Kantharith as a benefactor since 1999.

The justice minister yesterday denied having ever heard of Dam or Bopha and could not explain how Dam and Saroeun avoided jail time after their arrest in 2010. Saroeun yesterday said both were “cleared of wrongdoing” by the court with all charges dropped.

A government spokesman yesterday directed queries to the Anti-Corruption Unit, which was unreachable.

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