Gov’t To Question Cambodian Shipping Corp

The Cambodian Shipping Corp is scheduled to answer questions today before a government committee investigating a major drug bust onboard a Cambodian-flagged ship, police officials said.

French commandos boarded the Cambodian-registered freight­­er, the Winner, in the At­lantic Ocean in early June and seized almost two tons of cocaine allegedly bound for Spain.

A government investigation launched after the drug bust comes amid criticism of Cambo­dia’s flag-of-convenience policy and several maritime incidents involving ships registered by the Singapore-based CSC, which administers the Cambodian Ship Registry. “We invited the [CSC] company to send a representative to the committee meeting,” said Interior Ministry Police General Sok Phal. “This is the first step in the investigation.”

The committee, which includes representatives from the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Fi­nance and the National Bank, will concentrate on the Winner case, but will broaden investigations to all aspects of Cambodian shipping, Sok Phal said.

A report on the committee’s findings will be presented to the government, he added.

CSC Chairman Khek Sakara declined to comment on the in­vestigation Tuesday, stating it was the work of the government.

Shortly after the seizure of the Winner, Khek Sakara defended his company and its track record in working with international au­thorities to prevent the illegal use of Cambodian vessels.

A government official connected with Cambodian Ship Registry said the committee’s report could lead to a decision being made re­garding the future of the CSC.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, defended Cam­bodia’s shipping record. Among flag-of-convenience countries, Cambodia was not the worst offender, he said.

However, stricter monitoring of seafarers’ competence, seaworthiness of vessels and clear details of ownership were a necessity for any ship requesting Cambodian registration, he added.


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