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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