The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration yesterday deported 69 Chinese nationals following their arrest in Svay Rieng province earlier this month for operating a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) online money extortion scam.
The arrests were part of a police crackdown responding to concerns about Chinese nationals living in Cambodia who have committed numerous offences including confining their own nationals, torture and telecommunications fraud.
Uk Hai Seila, the department’s director of investigations, told reporters on Monday that the deportees had been detained by police on January 21 in Krong Bavet district’s Bavet commune for committing communications fraud.
“It relates to crimes like the ones we’ve cracked down on in the past. The National Police, in collaboration with Svay Rieng provincial police and the provincial prosecutor, detained the 69 Chinese nationals on January 21 in Bavet, Svay Rieng province."
“They were suspected of being involved in communications fraud or, as it is known, Voice over Internet Protocol scamming,” he said.
‘Turning a blind eye’
Em Sovanna, a political science professor, said many Chinese living in Cambodia are working or running businesses honestly, but some cause serious problems for Cambodian society.
He said Chinese government officials have also called on Cambodian authorities at all levels to take firm action against wrongdoers, but he said a handful of Cambodian officials were benefiting from the Chinese influx and turning a blind eye to lawbreaking.
“The Cambodian government has tried to prevent all kinds of crimes, and we have seen the authorities at all levels working really hard."
“But we also saw some gaps due to the number of Chinese nationals flooding into the Kingdom, which has meant our authorities have faced challenges. Some law enforcement authorities who have benefited from Chinese nationals have closed their eyes and ears and ignored their activities,” he said.
In December last year, the Department of Immigration deported 235 Chinese nationals for their part in another VoIP scam.
On November 26, the Anti-terrorism and Transnational Crimes Department at the Ministry of Interior and Takeo provincial police under orders from National Police chief Neth Savoeun arrested the 200 men and 35 women at four different locations in Takeo’s Bati and Tram Kak districts.
The team also seized a large amount of equipment believed to have been used in VoIP scams.
In September, the ministry’s secretary of state Sok Phal said the number of Chinese in Cambodia had reached over 200,000, excluding diplomats, tourists and NGOs. Of the number, more than 78,000 live in Sihanoukville, with only some 20,000 holding work permits.