Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Toll road company has family ties to CPP senator



Toll road company has family ties to CPP senator

Motorists travel past a newly finished section of toll booths on Veng Sreng Boulevard last week.
Motorists travel past a newly finished section of toll booths on Veng Sreng Boulevard last week. Pha Lina

Toll road company has family ties to CPP senator

The multimillion-dollar project to revamp Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng toll road for profit is being carried out by a company controlled by the brother-in-law of ruling Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin.

Choeung Thean Seng, who is reputed to be an officer in the paramilitary Brigade 70, is a brother of Meng Khin’s wife, Choeung Sopheap, and chairman of the board of directors of Phnom Penh Tollway Co Ltd, which acquired the Veng Sreng contract in 2013.

The $10.5 million contract was “transferred” to Phnom Penh Tollway from a previous service provider, according to City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche.

“When a project like this is transferred, there is no need to go through a bidding process. There is no law mandating a new bidding process,” he said, declining to name the company originally contracted to do the work.

When asked about Thean Seng’s alleged military connections, Dimanche said it was “impossible” that a military officer was connected to a major public works project.

Military officers are prohibited from holding directorships of companies under a 1997 law governing the armed forces.

Phnom Penh Tollway is registered to the same address as a number of other firms controlled by members of Meng Khin’s family, and the NVN Corporation, which is chaired by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s eldest daughter, Hun Mana.

While a source with knowledge of the inner workings of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces confirmed the tycoon’s membership in the unit, attempts to reach Thean Seng and commanders of Brigade 70 were unsuccessful.

Meng Khin’s family, however, do have well-documented links to Brigade 70, which is headquartered near the western end of Veng Sreng Boulevard, where its members were deployed last year as strikebreakers.

In a 2007 report, the NGO Global Witness alleged that Brigade 70 operated as a unit-for-hire, its officers being rented by Cambodian industrialists to smuggle goods such as alcohol, cigarettes, drugs and construction materials, as well as operating a nationwide timber trafficking network worth millions annually.

“Brigade 70’s clients [include] the infamous Pheapimex company run by Hun Sen crony Yeay Phu [Sopheap], as well as government officials and generals,” the NGO reported.

The unit provided personal protection for Prime Minister Hun Sen until 2009 when a separate Bodyguard Unit was created. It continues to operate outside of the regular military chain of command, answering directly to Hun Sen.

Brigade 70 has counted numerous high-profile tycoons among its ranks over the years, including Thong Sarath, a former deputy chief of staff at the Ministry of Defence, who was charged last year with ordering the murder of another construction mogul.

Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said that major construction projects such as the Veng Sreng development, which are outsourced to private companies, should be permitted only “through competitive and transparent process”.

“Without information, it is unclear how the transfer of contractual responsibilities and obligations is done and how it may comply or violate the law . . . The government or whoever funds this project should clarify such a deal.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Municipal hall releases map detailing colour coded Covid risks by commune

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng released an official map detailing the red, yellow and dark yellow zones within the city under the new lockdown orders for Phnom Penh announced on April 26. The designation of red, dark yellow and yellow corresponds to areas with high,

  • Inter-provincial travel ban lifted; Phnom Penh and Takmao not exempted

    The government on April 25 decided to lift the inter-provincial travel ban and the closure of tourist attractions across the country, effectively immediately. The travel ban and closures of all resorts were imposed on April 6 and 17 respectively in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19,

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • Phnom Penh, Takmao lockdown extended for another week

    The government late on April 26 announced an extension of lockdown in Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province for another seven days – or longer if residents do not comply with Covid-19 preventive measures and the community outbreak does not subside – until May 5. According

  • Gov't mulls extension of Phnom Penh, Takmao lockdown

    The Inter-ministerial National Commission for the Control and Enforcement of Lockdown held a video conference meeting on April 25 to review a draft document on the extension of lockdown in Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal province’s Takmao town. The meeting was chaired by Minister of

  • SBI LY HOUR Bank Launches Cross Border Money Transfer Service between Cambodia and Vietnam on RippleNet, utilizing DLT

    SBI LY HOUR Bank Plc and Hanoi-based Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) on Friday launched the first Cambodia-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency via RippleNet, provided by SBI Ripple Asia Co Ltd to provide safe, fast and convenient services. SBI LY HOUR