US, Singapore Blast Banking Allegations

The Singapore and US em­bas­sies in Phnom Penh re­leased statements scuttling claims by anti-corruption activist Nhem Vanthorn that both governments have knowledge of alleged multi-million dollar bank accounts held by Cambodian officials.

Nhem Vanthorn, director of the Khmer Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Organization, says he has received information from a Singaporean official that wives of high-ranking Cambo­dians possess 26 Singapore bank accounts holding some $800 million.

“Mr Vanthorn’s claims are baseless,” the Singapore Emb­a­s­sy said in a press statement released on Thursday.

Contrary to Nhem Vanthorn’s claims, Singapore’s Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau made no disclosures to him regarding Cambodian bank accounts and will not support his allegations, the embassy wrote.

Nhem Vanthorn did attend a conference organized by the Singapore Institute of Inter­national Affairs in May 2001. A CPIB official also attended but the two only communicated at a social event, the embassy said.

The first contact Nhem Van­thorn made with the CPIB was last month—17 months after the seminar—when he wrote seeking information on the accounts he had already publicly alleged existed in Singapore, the em­bassy wrote.

“The CPIB has not and will not be replying to Mr Vanthorn. It is not the policy of the CPIB to provide to any private individual the kind of information or assurances that Mr Vanthorn claims to have received.”

Nhem Vanthorn admitted last month that he possesses no documents to support his claims, but said the CPIB would support him if he came under legal attack or was targeted for arrest.

The US Embassy also waded into the controversy on Friday, branding as “inaccurate” recent reports the US government was investigating purported bank accounts held by Cambodian government officials in Singapore and Vietnam.

“There is no ongoing US Government investigation of bank accounts of Cambodian government officials…. Such unattributed reports are without basis in fact,” the US embassy stated.

Nhem Vanthorn had alleged the Cambodian banks ac­counts were uncovered by US investigations tracking funds linked to terrorist networks following the Sept 11 attacks.

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