Cambodian PM Hun Sen ‘amassing vast personal fortunes’ with trade links to Visa, Apple and Honda, report claims
The former Khmer Rouge commander and his relatives have amassed more than US$200 million through their interests in 114 private companies, according to watchdog Global Witness
Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen and his family have built a multimillion-dollar business empire spanning the impoverished country’s most lucrative sectors, a watchdog said on Thursday, warning foreign investors against bankrolling his regime.
Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge commander who defected from the bloody regime, has dominated Cambodia’s political scene during a 31-year reign marred by accusations of corruption, electoral fraud and rampant rights abuses.
During that time the wily premier has also used his position to hand control of swaths of the country’s economy to his family, the Britain-based watchdog Global Witness detailed in a report on Thursday.
Hun Sen and his relatives have amassed more than US$200 million through their interests in 114 private companies, according to the report, which cited data from the country’s Ministry of Commerce.
The family’s firms span Cambodia’s trade, finance, energy and media industries, with business links to major global brands such as Visa, Apple and Honda, the report said.
“Behind the scenes of Hun Sen’s dictatorial reign, his family is amassing vast personal fortunes,” the watchdog said, describing a “huge network of secret deal-making, corruption and cronyism which is helping secure the prime minister’s political fortress”.
The premier’s eldest daughter Hun Mana, a media mogul, has the biggest portfolio in the family with interests in 22 companies, 18 of which list her as chair or director, the report added.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan dismissed the report as an effort to “discredit” the premier.
“The report intends to break the Cambodian people’s respect for the Prime Minister,” he said.
“We are not paying attention to it,” he added.
The report intends to break the Cambodian people’s respect for the Prime Minister. We are not paying attention to it
But Patrick Alley, the founder of Global Witness, described Hun Sen as having an “almost feudal control of the economy” and urged foreign investors to reassess their stakes.
“Foreign investors can and should opt out of bankrolling a regime that kills, intimidates or locks up its critics,” he said.
Hun Sen has for decades dismissed accusation of rights abuses and links to graft and nepotism, and he regularly shrugs off Western pressure for reform while building strong relations with China.
China was the largest foreign investor in the fast-growing economy in 2015, accounting for US$864 million of the US$4.44 billion flowing into the country.
Hun Sen has also faced fierce criticism from rights groups in recent months, who accuse him of clamping down on rivals and critics as he eyes elections in 2018.
The European Parliament recently threatened to review nearly US$500 million of aid if his government continues to repress opponents, prompting a rebuke from Hun Sen who warned against interference in domestic politics.
Cambodia is listed as one of the most graft-riddled countries in the world, and the most corrupt in Southeast Asia, by watchdog Transparency International.
Additional reporting by Reuters