Canadia Bank’s former vice president said Tuesday that he was sacked earlier this month after he was tricked into spending $300,000 of the bank’s reserves on a statue under the misapprehension that it was made of solid gold.
Phuong Khin Hoa, formerly of the nation’s largest commercial bank, said a group of Chinese nationals approached him earlier this month with what they said was a solid gold Chinese Laughing Buddha statue that they would sell for a discount from its original price of $400,000.
“I was fired 10 days ago, I was cheated,” Phuong Khin Hoa said.
“They said they were broke and they wanted some cash to run another business,” he said of the businessmen. “They said [the statue] was valued at $400,000…then the cost was discounted down to $300,000.” Phuong Khin Hoa said he purchased the statue as an investment for the bank and that later tests determined it was only partially made of gold.
He said he agreed with Canadia’s decision to fire him, as the purchase was entirely his fault.
“Next time, whenever something sounds too good, it must not be believed,” he said. “This is the first mistake I made in 15 years in finance.”
Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth said Canadia has not been fully cooperative with the police following the incident.
“It is quite hard for police, because they did not provide the identity of the suspects,” said. “We are searching for them, but it is difficult.”
He added that bank officials have said they do not have passport information for the Chinese nationals, or dates for when they were in Cambodia. “If the bank provided some clues, we might be able to search for them,” he said. “I don’t understand why they buy from them without knowing something about the identity of the suspects,” he added.
Canadia Bank General Manager Pung Kheav Se was unavailable for comment on Tuesday, his assistant said.