Disgruntled CFB Staff Loot Office Furniture

Staff at the financially troubled Cambodia Farmers Bank, angry at having gone unpaid for more than 18 months, on Monday attempted to loot the bank’s office furniture, police and National Bank of Cambodia officials said Tuesday.

Employees removed desks, chairs and filing cabinets from the Kampuchea Krom Boulevard bank in an attempt to persuade management to pay salaries.

They were stopped by police before the equipment could be taken away, however, and the furniture was returned to the building and no arrests were made, Tuol Kok Deputy Police Chief Ho Suothy said.

The bank was closed Tuesday and a police officer and two private guards were posted out front at the request of its Thai managers, Ho Suothy said. Bank managers could not be reached for comment.

The Thai-owned bank’s financial woes were triggered by the Asian economic crisis that began in July 1997.

After complaints late last year that Cambodia Farmers Bank depositors could not withdraw cash, the National Bank ordered shareholders to give the bank a cash infusion or risk being shut down. No deadline was given.

According to police, the bank’s 23 employees had not been paid since December 1997.

But Cambodia Farmers Bank has not yet informed the National Bank that it will close, National Bank Deputy Governor Sum Nipha said Tuesday.

She emphasized that the National Bank will not bail the institution out and shareholders will have to put in more cash to keep it open.

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