For the fourth time since February, Kim Do Sam failed to show up in court on Tuesday. The former owner of the large Sam Han garment factory faces a combined government, bank and trade union lawsuit against him to the tune of several million dollars.
“We do not know where he is,” government representative and Council of Jurists member Anthony Pa said. “We filed a complaint against him in mid-February, at the time the government loaned Mr Kim Do Sam money to pay his workers.”
The 10,000-worker Sam Han garment factory was ordered closed by the government in February. In total, the Ministry of Finance had lent the owner $1.126 million, first to keep the factory afloat last year and then to cover last month’s unpaid salaries for 9,368 workers, just before the firm went under.
Workers claim that Sam Han still owes them compensation bonuses for closing the factory, as stated in the Labor Law. Two local banks, Union Commercial Bank and Advanced Bank of Asia, are also seeking to recover loans they made to the factory.
“We have no right to confiscate the property. That will be determined by the lawsuit,” Anthony Pa said. “Right now we are withholding the property so that no one can use it. To say we have confiscated it is not correct.”
According to CPP-backed Federal Union of Solidarity President Nay Veasna, Judge Ya Sakhon ordered one leader to speak for the government’s claims and those of FUS and independent union Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union.
Anthony Pa said that no one from Union Commercial Bank showed up at the hearing Tuesday, but a representative of creditor Advanced Bank of Asia did attend.
In February, factory managers said that Kim Do Sam had gone to his native South Korea to drum up funds to pay Sam Han’s debts. Staff at the South Korean Embassy said several times Tuesday that no one was available to comment.
The disappearance of Kim Do Sam in February led to days of protests by hundreds of garment workers. On Feb 22, police used tear gas, electric batons and gunfire to disrupt a 700-worker-strong action in front of the Russei Keo district factory. Eighteen workers claimed they were injured.