$700M Deal With Malaysia? Gov’t Officials Remain in the Dark

Now more than a week after officials announced one of Cambodia’s biggest financial transactions ever, there is still no information released by the government on its $700 million deal with Malaysian company Nexbis Sdn Bhd.

Nexbis Sdn Bhd, which is owned by Nexbis Limited and is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, has so far filed no announcement on the massive deal to the market, while its share price fell another 7.14 percent in Sydney yesterday, closing at AU$0.13, down by more than 76 percent since August.

According to a copy of the agreement received last week, Nexbis’ $700 million deal with the Ministry of Interior will provide Cambodia with a “turnkey national security system,” aiding them with services such as printing new passports and issuing visa stickers.

Senior Interior Ministry officials, however, say they too know nothing about the deal. “I have no idea about that,” In­ter­ior Ministry spokes­man Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said yesterday. “Even tomorrow, I [will] have nothing,” he added.

Such a lack of clarity has been echoed throughout the government in recent days.

For the second time in as many business days, Tia Fatiha, a receptionist working for Nexbis in Malay­sia, said the company’s marketing team was busy in a meeting and were unavailable to comment.

Last week government officials, including Secretary-General of the Ministry of Finance Hang Chuon Naron, expressed doubt that a deal of such a colossal size could be afforded by the government.

SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said by telephone yesterday that he suspected the deal was baseless.

“If the government doesn’t have the money then it must be the company themselves that makes up this figure to benefit from it,” he said.

Although Mr Chhay said that there must be some substance to the deal between Nexbis and the government, in the past Cambodia has acted as a location where companies have taken advantage of less than stringent regulations to promote their own interests.

“I don’t know what is happening behind closed doors, but it definitely should not be a secret,” he said.


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