ANZ Bank’s regional corporate office in Singapore said on Friday that its subsidiary in Cambodia, ANZ Royal Bank, would not participate in a new government initiative to pair private companies with military units.
“It is not appropriate for ANZ to provide support or sponsorships to individual military units in any country in which we operate,” ANZ Bank wrote in an e-mail on Friday. “ANZ Royal Bank, as a subsidiary of ANZ, will not be providing such support.”
ANZ Royal CEO Stephen Higgins also said on Friday that he was still unsure how his company’s name came to be listed as a military sponsor on a seven-page document signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
“As far as we’re concerned, it must be some type of printing error,” Mr Higgins said. “We had not authorized this type of support. There are no shades of grey here – ANZ simply cannot do this under its global policies,” he said.
ANZ Royal Bank is a joint venture between Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and Cambodia’s Royal Group headed by Kith Meng.
According to the document, distributed at a meeting of business and military leaders on Wednesday, which formally established 59 new military-business partnerships, ANZ Royal is set to sponsor Military Intervention Brigade 8 in Preah Vihear province and Border Police Battalion 905 in Oddar Meanchey province.
Prime Minister Hun Sen also named ANZ Royal in a speech at the Wednesday evening launch of the new initiative at the Cambodiana Hotel, and thanking the company for its support of the Cambodian military.
RCAF Brigadier-General Yim Pim, commander of Intervention Brigade 8, confirmed on Friday that his unit had been coupled with ANZ Royal.
“We have been announced as a partner [with ANZ Royal], but we have not met yet,” he said by telephone from Preah Vihear province’s Choam Ksan district, where he is based. “We’ve been engaged since yesterday, but we are not married yet and haven’t had our honeymoon,” he said.
Mr Pim said that when he meets with his new corporate partner, he would propose that it sponsor an agriculture project for his troops, paying for vegetable and fish farms as well as irrigation ponds in military villages.