A businessman and a senior government official having close links to the Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, are facing sanctions imposed by the U.S. Treasury, over alleged corruption. Sanctions are a result of concerns of the U.S. over Cambodia’s military ties with China.
The U.S. Treasury said it had sanctioned a former Joint Chief of Staff of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), Kun Kim, over his involvement in a real estate development in the Koh Kong province and his accord with the Chinese state-owned entity from which he’d gained significant financial benefit from.
The department said in a statement, “Kim used RCAF soldiers to intimidate, demolish, and clear-out land sought by the People’s Republic of China-owned entity. Kun Kim was replaced as RCAF Chief of Staff because Kim had not shared profits from his unlawful businesses with senior Cambodian government officials”. According to the U.S. Treasury, three members related to Kim and five entities that they owned or controlled were also sanctioned.
Try Pheap, a Cambodian tycoon and member of Hun Sen’s ruling party was also sanctioned for constructing a large scale illegal logging consortium with the collusion of officials. 11 Cambodian entities of Pheap were sanctioned.
Sok Eysan, spokesman of the ruling party and Senator, said the sanctions were ineffective and served as the support for the opposition. Sok Eysan told Reuters, “They don’t have assets abroad and if they are stupid to keep assets outside, let them freeze”.
Referring to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Eysan said, “They did this just to support their puppets, it’s not effective”. The CNRP was dissolved in 2017, paving the way for Hun Sen’s ruling party to win all the seats in the parliament in an election last year.
The U.S. wants the release of the detained opposition leader, Kem Sokha. It is concerned regarding Cambodia’s cooperation with China on a naval base. However, Hun Sen has completely denied any alliance.
Cambodia is also facing pressure from the European Union, as the latter is considering scrapping-off trade preferences with Cambodia due to its crackdown on the opposition.
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