Head of Failed Insurance Giant Goes Abroad

The head of beleaguered Indo­chine Insurance left Cam­bodia this weekend as the government prepares to investigate if company assets were removed before its forced closure last month.

The departure of Philippe Lenain, Indochine’s managing direct­or, followed a public statement faxed to The Cambodia Daily late Friday, saying he had been threatened.

Lenain wrote: “I could not send anything to you before today because I was [a] refugee in the French Embassy with my family. Our safety was under threat.” He did not elaborate. A French Em­bassy official confirmed Sunday that Lenain left the country but de­clined to provide details.

The Ministry of Finance is opening an investigation into Indochine and has hired an international accounting firm to help liquefy the company’s assets.

Mey Vann, director of the ministry’s finance industry department, said the government suspects that company assets were removed. “If [Lenain] is running away, then what is the meaning of that? The director of the company has to be responsible,” he said Sunday. If proof arises of questionable business practices, then Lenain could face charges in Cambodia, he warned.

After more than a year of warnings, the municipal court ordered Indochine’s closure in August for failing to make a minimal capital investment of $7 million as mandated by law, freezing its bank accounts and finally forcing the company into insolvency Oct 22.

The demise of the country’s leading private insurer was a hit to thousands of policyholders, and has left many searching for new policies and unsure how to re­coup their money. Indo­chine’s 55 em­ployees lost their jobs without pay.

Lenain denied responsibility for the company’s failure and said a merger deal in the works could have solved its problems. In a second public statement Friday, he faulted the Finance Ministry and directed former clients to seek damages and compensation from the financial industry department.

He said he will personally return 130 checks totaling $244,863 made out to Indochine since August, but offered no plan for Indochine’s 30,000 policyholders or $150,000 debt to suppliers.

(Ad­dition­al re­porting by Michelle Vachon)

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