Canadian authorities are investigating a Cambodian businessman who claims to be an adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen after they discovered $600,000 cash in his suitcase during an airport security check in Montreal, Canada, the Montreal Gazette newspaper reported.
Sy Veng Chun was stopped at Montreal’s Dorval Airport on Oct 12, ahead of his flight to Cambodia, when authorities found the money in the form of $100 bills in his luggage, the newspaper said Wednesday.
According to the Gazette, police believe the money was linked to criminal activity, prompting the Canadian government to file a court motion to confiscate it.
Sy Veng Chun, who operated a foreign-exchange business in Montreal, told police he was an adviser to Hun Sen and “a man of influence in political circles” in Cambodia, the newspaper said. He was not charged with a crime.
Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Sunday he was not aware of the incident and did not know the businessman. “I’ve never heard his name,” Khieu Kanharith said. “Maybe he changed his name.”
The Gazette reported that police suspected the cash was tied to criminal activity because Sy Veng Chun’s business did not make enough money to generate such a sum. It added that police had previously looked into his business during money laundering and drug trafficking investigations.
The newspaper said Sy Veng Chun told Canadian authorities that he had intended to use the money to repay a debt and carried it in cash because he didn’t trust Cambodia’s banking system.
According to an official with the Ministry of Finance’s customs department, the maximum amount of undeclared money a person can bring into Cambodia is $10,000.