Authorities Release 12 Chinese Gold Hunters

Twelve Chinese men prospecting for gold in Kompong Thom pro­vince, were arrested and re­leased last week after they were cleared of suspicions they entered the country illegally, officials said.

The men, believed to have been employed by a powerful Cambo­dian businesswoman, ar­rived in San­dang district’s Snorng Orn region about one week ago to look for gold on Phnom Chi, a mountain that is al­ready home to several mines, provincial Governor Nam Tum said Sunday.

“The company has a license from the government to find gold mines but those Chinese men working in that area did not have passports or any references,” he said, adding that he did not know the company’s name.

Nam Tum said district officials told him the company belongs to Cheung Sopheap, informally called Yeay Phu, the owner of the land and timber giant Pheapimex.

Kim Ann, Kompong Thom pro­vince deputy police chief, said the men were released Saturday af­ter more than two days in police custody, when a representative of their employer, a company called Vanvymex, brought passports and other documentation to the police. “Those Chinese men are not be­ing exploited and were not smuggled into Cambodia,” Kim Ann said. Nam Tum, however, said he was not aware that police had obtained appropriate documentation for the men.

Vanvymex and Pheapi­mex staff could not be reached Sunday. The governor and deputy police chief both said they did not have contact information for Vanvymex, and phone numbers for the company are not listed. Listed numbers for Pheapimex did not work.

The Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy, Suy Sem, signed an agreement July 30 au­thorizing Vanvymex to explore for gold in the area and listing the address of Pheapimex headquarters as that of Vanvymex.

Related Stories

Latest News

The Weekly DispatchA weekly newsletter from The Cambodia Daily delivering news, analysis and opinion to your inbox. Published every Friday at 11:30am. Sign up today.