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Big Capital investors still seeking answers

Villagers wait outside the Ministry of Interior in Phnom Penh yesterday to seek intervention against the firm Empire Big Capital.
Villagers wait outside the Ministry of Interior in Phnom Penh yesterday to seek intervention against the firm Empire Big Capital. Pha Lina

Big Capital investors still seeking answers

Nearly 200 people participated in demonstrations at the Ministry of Interior and the National Assembly on Monday morning, demanding the government arrest Sean Tan, a former top officer of the Hong Kong-registered Empire Big Capital Limited (EBC) investment firm, for fraud.

Eng Channy, 37, a fraud victim who headed the demonstrations, said EBC cheated 311 families out of a total $790,400 in 2015. Channy said he estimated this amount by adding the sums listed on aggrieved clients’ investment receipt slips.

Channy said he personally invested $20,000 in EBC, lured by promises of a 10 percent return on investment each month. After initially receiving $1,000 back, the payments from EBC abruptly stopped, he said. His deposit was never returned.

“Some people borrowed money from the bank to invest with this company to get high returns; we want [the company] to pay us back,” said Prey Veng resident Yim Eng, 35, who lost $2,100 to the scheme.

Authorities arrested several EBC staff in 2015 on suspicions of fraud, five of whom were sentenced to jail terms of nine months to two years.

Assembly spokesman Chheang Vun said he would forward the petition, while Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak declined to comment.

Though supportive of an investigation, Transparency International Cambodia’s Preap Kol stressed the importance of understanding the risks “in any investment or business, especially when [people] rely on loans from microfinance institutions”.

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