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Former GE Vice Chairman named government adviser

Former GE Vice Chairman John Rice speaks to The Post in May. Post staff
Former GE Vice Chairman John Rice speaks to The Post in May. Post staff

Former GE Vice Chairman named government adviser

Former General Electric Vice Chairman John G Rice was appointed as a Cambodian government adviser in November.

The appointment was dated November 30 and published in the latest edition of the Cambodian Royal Book. The position was first floated by Hun Sen during a November 23 meeting with Rice, according to a press release from the Council of Ministers.

Rice at the time reportedly thanked Hun Sen for facilitating GE’s investment into “the fields of electricity and health” as GE looked to invest in a coal plant in Preah Sihanouk province and various hospitals.

GE also appears to have had dealings directly with the Hun family. A 2016 Global Witness report, titled Hostile Takeover, revealed a vast network of business interests connected to the Hun family and other prominent government officials, and at one point implicated GE.

Hun Sen’s son-in-law Sok Puthyvuth – also the son of late Deputy Prime Minister Sok An – signed a multimillion-dollar agreement with GE while Rice was overseeing global operations from Hong Kong.

“Hun Maly’s husband, Sok Puthyvuth, is the chair of Soma Energy . . . In 2012, the Soma Group signed an Memorandum of Understanding involving a US$3 million biomass power deal with US corporate giant General Electric,” reads the Global Witness report.

“The power of Cambodia’s regime emanates from a sprawling system of patronage, and the economy of corrupt deals, curried favours and party political donations that underpins this,” said Global Witness’s Emma Burnett, adding that there is no distinction between public and private.

Grace Low, ASEAN communications director for GE, confirmed Rice was appointed as an adviser to the Cambodian government.

Low said Rice retired as Vice Chair and head of Global Growth in December, but “remains with GE in an advisory capacity until the end of March”.

Despite already being appointed an adviser, Low claimed Rice will not “undertake any advisory activities with the Cambodian Government… while an active employee of GE”.

She went on to note that Rice and his wife “have been actively involved in philanthropic efforts in Cambodia… and they are committed to supporting progress for the people of Cambodia”.

A previous version of this article stated that John G Rice had left General Electric entirely in December. In fact, he retired from his role as vice chairman but will remain in an advisory role with the company until March.

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