The Malaysian founder of Phnom Penh’s only licensed casino, Chen Lip Keong, is now a billionaire after seeing his fortune multiply in size in recent years, according to Forbes magazine.
The magazine, which calculates the wealth of individuals using company data, published a list of the 50 richest Malaysians in its March edition.
Mr. Chen, the CEO and executive director of NagaCorp, NagaWorld’s parent company, comes in 13th, with an estimated net worth of $1.01 billion. His wealth has grown from $195 million in 2009, when he first appeared in the list, according to an article on Forbes’ website.
NagaCorp, which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, has announced net profits of $113.1 million for 2012. The company made $92 million in 2011, more than double the previous year.
Work began in November on a $369 million project to build Naga2, a second hotel and casino, which is entirely funded by Mr. Chen himself. The company holds the exclusive right to operate a casino in Phnom Penh and the immediate surrounding area until 2035.
A biography on NagaCorp’s website says Mr. Chen is “an Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister of Cambodia [Hun Sen] and an Advisor to the Royal Government of Cambodia with Ministerial status.”
According to Forbes, Mr. Chen is a qualified medical doctor and formerly headed a Malaysian state-owned aerospace company.
He is also the largest shareholder in Malaysian-listed property and tourism company Karambunai—which made losses about $17 million in 2011 to 2012, according to the company’s most recent annual report.
A six-day strike at the casino over the dismissal of four staff members ended on Wednesday with NagaWorld agreeing to reinstate the employees.
As many as 1,000 people joined demonstrations outside the casino, and also demanded that wages be increased from as low as $80 per month to a minimum of $150.
Employees have now returned to work and the casino has promised to consider raising wages.