Frenchman Arrested in Botched Phnom Penh Bank Robbery

Police in Phnom Penh on Monday evening arrested a French national in Boeng Keng Kang III commune during an alleged attempt to commit what police are calling the capital’s first armed bank robbery.

Chamkar Mon district deputy police chief Heang Thareth said yesterday that French national Francois Chateau, 48, was arrested at around 8:30 pm on Monday after attempting to flee from the Cambodia Asia Bank on Mao Tse Tung Boulevard.

“We arrested him and we will send him to the municipal court” today, Mr Thareth said. “He confessed that he went inside the bank to rob it but he did not explain his motive.”

While waiting for the bank to hand over its cash, Mr Chateau put his Glock handgun on a table, giving a female bank employee an opportunity to snatch it away, Mr Thareth said, adding that the suspect then crashed into one of the exit doors while trying to flee.

“He ran outside but he hit the glass door and injured his head and fell down. Then some security guards caught him,” he said.

Deputy Phnom Penh police chief Hy Prou claimed the case was the first armed bank robbery attempt in the capital. “In the past there was never a bank robbery with a gun,” Mr Prou said.

According to a Chamkar Mon district police report, Mr Chateau was living as an expatriate in Phnom Penh and owned an autorepair garage in Boeng Trabek commune.

Cambodia Asia Bank internal audit chief Tob Ratheanin said the suspect was arrested with the $275 he managed to take from the bank.

“The suspect took 1,118,000 riel from the bank,” he said, before declining further comment.

Security guard Lim Chanthy said he was on duty outside the bank when Mr Chateau pulled the gun on him and forced him to enter the building.

“He pointed the gun at my head and ordered me into the bank,” he said. “He then ordered the staff to give the money to him…. When he ran outside I saw him hit the glass door.”

The French Embassy confirmed that a French national had been arrested in connection with an alleged bank robbery attempt Monday night but declined to comment further.

(Additional reporting by Paul Vrieze)


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