Victims of Ponzi Scheme Petition Courts, Government for Assistance

About 300 victims of an alleged Ponzi scheme filed complaints with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, the Justice Ministry and the National Assembly on Monday asking for the government’s help in recouping their losses.

Among them was 46-year-old Kul Keam, a resident of Kompong Thom province, who said she lost about $20,000 after investing in the now-defunct Hong-Kong based financial firm Empire Big Capital (EBC).

“We want to find justice for citizens by getting them back their money,” Ms. Keam said.

Fourteen people were arrested in June 2015 for their involvement in facilitating Cambodian investments in EBC, one month after the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia accused them of fraud and warned the public against investing with the company or connected firms.

Ms. Keam said on Monday that victims never saw their investments again, and some have now lost their homes or fled to Thailand.

“Everyone lost land,” she said. “They all borrowed money from the banks. Now, I am only left with my teeth and hair.”

National Assembly spokesman Leng Peng Long said on Monday that the Assembly had received the complaint and would look into [assisting] the victims.

“The next step is for the National Assembly to check with the involved ministries,” Mr. Peng Long said. “Then we will issue a letter to request intervention from those ministries to solve or explain this problem.”

The complaint follows inaction on the provincial level, according to Ms. Keam, who said authorities sat on a complaint filed with the Kompong Thom Provincial Court last year.

About 100 victims of the scheme gathered in front of the Interior Ministry in February, but a ministry official said at the time that he couldn’t help the victims because the ministry had never licensed Asean Instrument Foundation, which encouraged investors to buy shares in EBC, to operate in the country.

This claim was disputed by complainants again on Monday.

“The government gave the licenses to those companies that cheated the citizens,” said Touern Phanith, a 36-year-old investor from Kompong Cham province.

“If they still have no solution for us, we will refile the complaint again and again, and keep begging the government to help us,” he said.

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