Reuters Special Report: Khmer Riche - How Relatives and Allies of Cambodia's Leader Amassed Wealth Overseas

A person riding a scooter passes an advertisement near Paphos, Cyprus October 12, 2019. Picture taken October 12, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

A person riding a scooter passes an advertisement near Paphos, Cyprus October 12, 2019. Picture taken October 12, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

NICOSIA/LONDON (Reuters) - Cambodia’s long-ruling prime minister, Hun Sen, had gathered athletes at his imposing office for a televised pep talk. “I don’t want to mention politics,” he began quietly.

But he couldn’t help himself. It was December 2017. The main opposition party had just been outlawed, the latest move in Hun Sen’s campaign to eradicate his political rivals. The United States and European Union were threatening sanctions, and Hun Sen had a message for them.

“Just do it now if you are brave enough,” he taunted, bristling with outrage. There was no point in the West trying to seize the foreign assets of Cambodian officials, he went on, because they “wouldn’t be so damn stupid as to keep their assets overseas.”

But a Reuters investigation shows that those closest to Hun Sen have done exactly that. Family members and key police, business and political associates have overseas assets worth tens of millions of dollars, and have used their wealth to buy foreign citizenship – a practice Hun Sen has decried as unpatriotic and at times has sought to outlaw.

Claire Baldwin and Andrew R.C. Marshal reports for Reuters.

Access the article here.

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