After Bomb, Governor Wants ATMs Moved, More Security

After a makeshift explosive shattered the glass of a Canadia Bank ATM on Russian Boulevard in Phnom Penh on Saturday night, municipal governor Pa Socheatvong on Tuesday said banks should increase security or move their cash machines out of public places.

“We demand inspections and strict accountability,” the governor said, summarizing his remarks during a weekly City Hall meeting on Monday. “We can’t just let it be.”

cam photo ATMs KHMER
A man leaves an ATM outside the Phnom Penh post office in Daun Penh district on Tuesday.(Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey said that the bomber of the Canadia ATM, who remains at large, appeared to have targeted the machine specifically because it was in a fairly quiet spot. The explosion occurred at about midnight, but failed to damage the cash box.

A report posted to the National Police website on Sunday describes security footage showing a man approaching the ATM and attaching explosives to the money slot, along with a fuse that he then lit.

A security guard at a hospital next to the ATM told a reporter on Sunday that his colleague stationed there at the time of the explosion had fallen asleep. Mr. Measpheakdey said such security lapses needed to stop.

“They have to select public locations where there is easy access and high security,” he said, adding that banks with ATMs in densely populated or vulnerable areas may be asked to move or implement new security measures.

“We just want ATM owners to pay more attention and care to the safety of customers,” Mr. Measpheakdey said. “The ATM owner must take responsibility for themselves by properly guarding it.”

Canadia Bank’s executive vice president, Charles Vann, said on Tuesday that the bank had “taken appropriate actions to strengthen security due to this last incident,” though he declined to give specifics.

“We don’t want to release them because we have to monitor and are trying to help catch that thief,” he said.

“I think for the ATMs in the public places, we do have our security monitoring system in place,” Mr. Vann added. “But now we are strengthening due to this situation—the attack that occurred recently.”

Sanzhar Abdullayev, chief card & e-banking officer at ABA Bank, which has more than 100 ATMs in the country, claimed it already had security guards posted at all its ATMs 24 hours a day, either hired directly by the bank or through the location owner.

He said ABA, which has been hit with a string of ATM thefts over the past couple of years, was re-examining its systems after Saturday’s explosion.

“We don’t care that much about cash, because that is insured, but we share the concern with the government that we have to protect the people, so we will check what we can do,” Mr. Abdullayev said.

“I know there is a meeting with our person who is responsible for security of the bank together with our IT department. So they have to develop some additional steps on how we can improve security.”

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