Villagers Claim They Were Swindled by Agency

About a dozen villagers from Kompong Cham province yesterday filed a complaint with rights group Adhoc, claiming they had been swindled by an international recruitment agency based in Phnom Penh, the villagers and officials said.

“They promised me that they would send me to Thailand to get a job. We gave them $300, and we’ve been waiting since May,” said Chum Sreyeoun, 30, one of the 12 villagers, who live in the province’s Prey Chhor district.

Villagers say the agency, International Investment Service Co. Ltd. (IIS), took their money and promised them jobs as electricians and construction workers in Thailand.

“I cannot trust them. They said after we gave them money, they would send us to work in Thailand. But now I have not heard anything from them. I just want my money back,” said In Kimtoun, who said his family gave IIS $1,050.

On IIS’ website, the agency boasts that it is “the world leader in innovative workforce solutions,” and “Cambodia’s largest manpower supply to…countr[ies] such as Malaysia, Thailand, Japan and Kuwait.”

“Our partner taking staff to work in Thailand is closing,” Man Sokkrey, an administrator at the IIS branch in Russei Keo, said. He declined to comment further and referred all other questions to his manager, Ya Rumly. Calls to Mr. Rumly were not returned.

Neang Soveth, Adhoc’s coordinator in Kompong Cham, confirmed he had received the complaints. “We will send the complaints to the migration office in the provincial labor department. These villagers are now unemployed, and this makes them poorer. They have to pay back debt for the money they borrowed to pay [IIS],” he said.

Khiev Socheat, provincial deputy administrator for the migration department, said he had received the complaints, but needed additional information from the families.

In a separate case, two ringleaders accused of illegally transporting 18 people across the border to work in Thailand were arrested on Tuesday, police said.

Nget Thorn, 46, and his wife, Loun Pheap, 44, were detained with 19 other people, including a taxi driver, at a bus station in Battambang province’s Sampov Loun district, said Anh Kamal, deputy military police chief in Sampov Loun.

(Additional reporting by Chin Chan)

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