A grifter who had shares in a shadowy offshore company alongside Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana said on Thursday that the two were “mates,” even as a Justice Ministry spokesman claimed there was no connection between them.
Ray Chhat Dam was one of five shareholders in British Virgin Islands-based company RCD International Limited whose identities were made public in the latest trove of “Panama Papers” released by the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on Monday.
While offshore companies can be used for money laundering or tax evasion, the purpose of RCD International Limited, and many other companies named in 11 million documents leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, remains unclear.
Mr. Vong Vathana paid $5,000 for shares in the company, which existed for just over three years after being registered in early 2007 and closed in 2010, according to the documents.
Mr. Dam has a criminal history in Cambodia, where he spent two months in prison over forgery charges along with another RCD shareholder, Soush Saroeun.
The charges stemmed from a faked verification letter from a bank in connection to a real estate subsidiary of the Office of International Treasury Control, a bizarre organization run by Mr. Dam that claims to be “the largest single owner of gold and platinum bullion in the World” and to be endorsed by the U.N., which has denied any ties.
In an email on Thursday, Mr. Dam claimed he was still in charge of the firm. “Yes, I am still remains as chairman and CIC of the global organization,” he wrote, adding that he was friends with Mr. Vong Vathana.
“Mr. Ang Vong Vathana is my mate,” he said, declining to answer questions regarding the purpose of RCD International Limited.
The justice minister could not be reached on Thursday, but ministry spokesman Chin Malin denied that Mr. Vong Vathana was familiar with Mr. Dam.
“He does not know the person that you mention,” he said. “The minister has no connection, no shares in the company and no relation with that guy.”
(Additional reporting by Khy Sovuthy)