A chain of banks co-owned by prominent local businessman Kong Triv has run short of cash, with customers being asked to give one week’s notice before withdrawing large sums.
Although a bank official blamed the country’s economic downturn for the cashflow shortage, industry sources and economists said they believe difficulties at the Pacific Commercial Bank and several others in the city are due more to poor commercial management.
“It’s not related [to the region], it’s in their own house,” economist Bit Seanglim said Wednesday.
National Bank of Cambodia officials said Tuesday that the problem at the 4-year-old Pacific Commercial Bank came to their attention earlier this month. NBC Cabinet Chief Pev Horn said they began receiving anonymous letters complaining that customers had not been able to withdraw cash from the bank.
“I heard the same thing from many people so I thought it must be true,” he said.
The Pacific Commercial Bank is a Cambodian-Thai joint venture. Kong Triv, the deputy chairman of the Phnom Penh Chamber of Commerce and the local partner of British American Tobacco, has a 30 percent stake.
He could not be reached for comment.
Pacific Commercial’s deputy director, Huy Chandara, acknowledged Tuesday that the financial institution is having difficulties and that it is working with the NBC to resolve them.
He blamed the cashflow problem on the country’s current economic situation, which has left the bank with a large number of non-performing loans.
“We have not pushed them to repay the money to us during the economic instability because it is difficult for them,” Huy Chandara said.
Uncertainties about Cambodia’s economic and political situation during the past two months, he added, has caused many depositors to withdraw large quantities of cash.
Kong Triv’s partners, facing economic problems of their own in Thailand, now want to sell their shares to him, Huy Chandara said, but no decision has been made on whether to buy them.
Huy Chandara said the bank is working with the NBC and asking people not to try to withdraw large sums. “[Customers] should give us a warning at least one week in advance,” he urged.
But he emphasized that customers “can withdraw money step by step and won’t lose their money.”