US Pastor Is Recovering and Talking Business

An American pastor who survived a shooting in Phnom Penh last week said Tuesday that he is re­covering well and looking forward to completing a series of large-scale natural resource business transactions in Cambodia.

Bruce McKee, 50, who says he is pro­tected in Phnom Penh by a six-man security detail including two members of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit, said he is in­volved in prospecting for both coal and oil.

“If I’m going to help the country, they need these things,” he said, adding that natural resources will pro­vide energy to create jobs and al­leviate poverty.

“Money isn’t evil. It’s the love of money that’s evil,” he said. “I’ve started many churches…. I’ve done everything that a missionary should be do­ing,” he said. “I’d like to help my­self, too.”

He said he has been encouraging oil investors in his home state of Tex­as to invest in Cambodia, and has also formed contacts with Cam­bodia’s National Petroleum Auth­ority and the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy.

McKee said he is also negotiating with several foreign firms over a con­tract to mine for “millions of metric tons” of coal in Siem Reap prov­ince. He declined to name them or dis­cuss possible commissions.

He denied his business dealings were related to the shooting on Feb 8, when his ear was wounded after an unidentified gunman opened fire on him as he sat in a parked car outside his home.

US Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle said McKee is not connected to the embassy, while Bretton Sciar­oni, head of the International Busi­ness Club, said he had never heard of him.

Den Men, director of the petroleum exploration and development dep­­artment at the Cambodian Na­tional Petroleum Authority, declined to discuss oil negotiations, though he said he did not believe he knew Mc­Kee. McKee said he entered in­to dis­cus­sions last year with X-Change Corp­oration, a Texas oil and gas firm, to exploit petroleum and natural gas reserves in the Tonle Sap ba­sin.

According the US Securities and Ex­change Commission, X-Change had then not posted any sales and was once a chain of barbecue res­taurants. The firm has since lost in­terest in Cambodia, said McKee. He said he had fallen out with them.

“I have not made any money…I’m just trying,” he said. “I’m probably the only crazy nut that’s trying to do this kind of stuff.”

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