Employees detained inside a Poipet casino accused of skimming profits were released Tuesday morning, and most were delivered into the custody of police and promptly jailed pending an official investigation, officials said.
Management at the Golden Crown Casino had detained 11 employees inside its hotel complex since Aug 20 as they conducted their own inquiry into how $2.5 million disappeared from casino coffers.
The casino’s maverick investigation caused alarm among human rights activists, and one Poipet group received reports that the detained employees had been tortured during their interrogation.
Police also pressured the casino to release the suspects by Monday evening, telling management to either release the workers or file a complaint.
Golden Crown heeded the deadline late Monday night, but police returned Tuesday morning to take the nine suspects into custody, said Sok Sareth, Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief.
The nine workers will go to provincial court today to face formal charges of larceny, he said.
Two other employees were released for cooperating with casino management and offering information that could lead to the arrest of more accomplices, said Soth Kosal, the casino’s human resources chief.
Throughout the employees’ detention, Golden Crown maintained they were treated fairly and humanely as management questioned them about the missing money and reviewed hours of videotape from inside the casino.
The workers, all Cambodian and most of whom are card dealers, are accused of belonging to a network that siphoned the casino cash. Golden Crown management said Tuesday it had recouped some $71,000 in cash from the detained employees—a fraction of the $2.5 million they say is missing.
The detained employees appeared pale and thin on Tuesday, according to Dieb Sivutha, director of the NGO Cambodian Children Development Organization for Protection of Human Rights, who said he saw the workers at a police station.
Dieb Sivutha’s organization has questioned the casino’s tactics in detaining the suspects and demanding compensation. On Tuesday he said the organization plans to file an official complaint with Cambodian authorities regarding Golden Crown’s actions.
“The casino illegally detained the workers. The authorities should send the casino to court, not the workers,” he said, adding that management had also extorted money from the employees.
Soth Kosal said Golden Crown management was demanding from the detained workers twice the amounts they allegedly stole, sums totaling more than $10,000 in some instances.