There are other companies operating in similar form to disgraced former Oknha Leng Channa’s now-defunct Brilliant City World Co Ltd, which secretly defrauded people, Ky Tech, head of the government's legal team, warned during a meeting attended by 267 people from several provinces in Phnom Penh on June 2.

Tech called for the public to exercise vigilance before making a decision to invest with a company.   

“I would like to request that people be very cautious, as we see companies of this form continue to operate in secrecy. Therefore, please carefully consider your actions. It is necessary to think things through thoroughly,” he advised.

Tech also called on relevant authorities to cooperate in preventing such fraudulent activities in the future and to take action against companies operating illegally or without proper authorisation.

A 48-year-old traditional carver from Siem Reap claimed that he deposited nearly $30,000 with the company in 2022. Initially, he invested just over $1,000 from his savings, but after growing to trust the company, he took out a loan of nearly $20,000 from a local bank, securing it with his land title.

He, along with others, attended the company's lavish project inaugurations, which were attended by well-known individuals and some with honorary titles like Oknha and His Excellency. The man said the company held countless meetings, enticing people with projects involving the sale of vehicles, homes, clean water, and open markets for importing Thai products to sell in Siem Reap.

“I attended over 30 presentations about the company’s projects. They emphasised loyalty among participants, even composing two songs, ‘Hands I Need’ and ‘Live and Die Friends’, to foster a sense of community,” he said.

“They organised big events, not merely simple gatherings, to get our money. We checked their profiles, saw their international missions and reputable figures doing good things. They presented clear and tangible investment opportunities, leading us to invest tens of thousands of [dollars],” he explained.

Ky Tech, head of the government's legal team, meets with victims of disgraced former Oknha Leng Channa’s Brilliant City World project in Phnom Penh on June 2. Supplied

He is now obligated to repay $600 monthly to the bank, but he has missed four months' payments and is now facing the risk of property seizure.

Liv Sokhon, Siem Reap Provincial Administration spokesman and advisor to the Ministry of Information, said that after the scandal broke, the provincial authorities conducted meetings to devise a solution and repeatedly informed the public.

"We have communicated directly and extensively about this issue. The community is well aware of the situation. And one more thing, people should learn from the experiences of others in their villages," he said.

Sokhon warned that people should not blindly trust and invest in companies just because they are backed by wealthy or powerful individuals or because the owners have photos with high-ranking officials. Instead, they should be thoroughly informed and look beyond superficial positives offered by the company, such as high-interest rates.

The greed of some individuals leads them to make poor decisions, putting them at risk, he added.

Last week, over 200 affected individuals gathered and submitted letters requesting legal representation in court from the government’s lawyers.

Tech said on June 2 that he would organise four or five additional meetings between the lawyers and the remaining affected individuals to gather information personally. 

"I am committed to leading the government lawyer team diligently, representing the victims to protect their interests to the best of my abilities, following legal procedures at all times," he added.