The owner of currency exchange company GCG Asia Co Ltd was temporarily detained by the court yesterday for attempted fraud after Prime Minister Hun Sen reacted to the company using his name and pictures to allege his endorsement of the firm.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Ly Sophana said on Sunday that after reviewing the case and questioning GCG Asia’s owner, a Malaysian national named Yaw Foo Hoe, the prosecution representative decided to launch an investigation.
“He has been put in Prey Sar prison temporarily after deputy prosecutor Top Chhunlong charged him with attempted fraud under articles 377, 378 and 381 of the Criminal Code,” Sophana said.
National police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun said on Sunday that GCG Asia is an international scamming company and people in several Asian countries have already fallen victim.
He said the police have found that the company had not registered with the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) or relevant ministries and institutions as claimed.
Kim Khoeun said the firm had previously committed fraud in Malaysia and Indonesia, but after the authorities there became wise to the scam, the company moved to Cambodia.
“Cambodian citizens have not fallen victim to this company. Most of the victims were Chinese nationals as the company made their sales abroad. They only had an office in Cambodia."
“Besides our questioning, there were some other suspicious issues. So we decided to send him to court to follow legal procedures. His wife and colleagues were not involved so we have released them,” he said.
An NBC press release on Friday stated that GCG Asia had circulated false information claiming to have received a license from the NBC to operate a currency exchange business and had used the NBC’s name and trademark on their website for ill-intentioned purposes.
It said the NBC had never issued GCG Asia with a licence.
Before the suspect was detained, Hun Sen wrote on his official Facebook page on Thursday that GCG Asia had recently used his name and pictures on its website saying that the prime minister would join their launching ceremony on Monday.
“As the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, I deny the information posted on the company’s website, which is not true,” he wrote.
Hun Sen said the company had also used NBC’s name, saying the two organisations were partners in the exchange of cryptocurrency.
“Please, all citizens and businessmen – both inside and outside the country – be very careful about buying unauthorised exchange money purportedly from the Royal Government of Cambodia."
“Please, all authorities and relevant institutions, search for the ill-intentioned person to be punished in accordance with the law immediately,” Hun Sen wrote.
Officials from the NBC and the Securities Exchange Commission of Cambodia temporarily shut down the company – based in Daun Penh district’s Wat Phnom commune in Phnom Penh – on Friday.