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Royal representative denies claims

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Authorities inspect a truck owned by tycoon Kith Meng’s Ang & Associates that was allegedly transporting timber to Vietnam from Strung Treng province last month. Photo supplied

Royal representative denies claims

A representative of business mogul Kith Meng’s Royal Group yesterday hit back at a report published by the National Police accusing the company of laundering illegal timber through the Lower Sesan II hydro power project.

Together with Chinese partners, the Royal Group is building the 400 megawatt dam in Stung Treng province and has contracted its own subsidiary company, Ang & Associates, to clear the surrounding 36,000-hectare reservoir. The company, however, has long faced allegations of using the site to launder timber from elsewhere.

Citing anonymous sources, a report published on the National Police website on Tuesday accused Kith Meng’s company of colluding with timber traders.

It said company manager “Mr Seng” and his wife employed local villagers to cut trees outside the area and hauled them to the reservoir in Sesan district to launder the timber.

The report alleged the logging operation was run by “Oknha Chey”, whose subordinates “Tim Bunlin and San Chory” transported timber to Vietnam “day and night”.

“The authority is turning a blind eye to it and has not cracked down,” the article read.

However, Royal Group representative in Stung Treng Um Bunret yesterday dismissed the report as merely “allegations without evidence”.

He claimed one explanation for the accusations was that loggers were using the company’s name without permission.

Ang & Associates, however, made headlines in April when two of its timber-laden trucks were seized near the border with Vietnam, despite a blanket ban on wood exports to Cambodia’s eastern neighbor.

Stung Treng Provincial Hall spokesman Men Kong said he was unaware of the National Police report but said authorities would investigate.

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