Six Arrested, Including 5 Acleda Employees, in Bank Standoff

Six suspects, five of whom were employees of Acleda Bank, were arrested late Wednesday night after a daylong standoff in what police initially thought was a hos­tage crisis at an Acleda branch of­fice in Kompong Cham prov­ince’s Stung Trang district, officials said on Thursday.

In a statement, the National Po­lice identified the arrested bank employees as Sim Kimthat, 35, who worked as a cashier; Tin Kuy­heng, 27; An Mathly, 20; Say Dyna, 32, who was acting director of the office; and Rien Socheat, 26.

Sin Tola, 23, who works at a hydroelectric plant in Koh Kong province, was also arrested.

The arrests came after an almost 30-hour hostage ordeal in Arak Tnort commune where police initially believed that two kidnappers were holding two bank employees hostage in the Acleda Bank service office. With the kidnappers repeatedly de­manding meth­ampheta­mine in exchange for their prisoners’ release, police provided four pills but to no avail. Ne­go­tiations came to a standstill and police decided to pull back from the bank on Wednesday night in the hope that the perpetrators might make a run for it.

Chay Kimsun, provincial police chief, said that all four tried to flee on motorbikes, but were immediately captured by the police. About 5 million riel, or about $1,250, was found during a search of the motorbikes the suspects tried to escape on, and further questioning led to the arrest of the other two suspects.

“The six suspects, five of whom are Acleda Bank employees, were arrested last night by police forces. They confiscated one K-54 handgun with five bullets,” Mr. Kimsun said. “The reason for their plan was to extort money from the bank because Sim Kim­that’s family owes someone a lot of money so he hatched a plan to rob money from the bank.”

“One other man, who is the sibling of the ringleader [Sim Kim­that], is still at large,” he said, adding that 57 million riel, or about $14,000, was left on the second floor of the office building.

“These suspects were not hos­tage victims or kidnappers; they were all just bank robbers,” Mr. Kimsun said, adding that the six are being questioned at the provincial police station.

In Channy, Acleda Bank president, said he remained perplexed as to why the suspects chose to stage a hostage-taking instead of just stealing the money from the bank.

“This is my big question because they are working there, they are staff there, so why would they need to stay there?” Mr. Channy asked, adding that to prevent future situations like this, Acleda will step up the frequency of their internal au­dits to twice or thrice a week.

With the exception of 20-year-old Mr. Mathly, the other four em­ployees had been with Acleda for two to three years.

“They would [work for] us in the daytime, and at night, they attended education programs. When they graduated with a professional degree, they became staff like information officers and credit officers,” Mr. Channy said. “We will press charges against them, submit it to the court and all of them are fired.”

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