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Cambodia: Global Witness report maps corporate interests of Prime Minister’s family; warns intl. firms against doing business with entities linked to corruption & rights abuses


“Hostile Takeover” maps the corporate interests of the family of Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen based on official data on company ownership in Cambodia. It shows links of some international companies to local businesses facing various allegations of human rights abuses, and offers recommendations to companies, investors, and governments.

We invited the 15 biggest international companies named in the report to provide comments. Available responses are posted below.

Also linked below is a follow-up article from Global Witness describing responses of the Hun family to their report.

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13 September 2016

Hostile Takeover: The corporate empire of Cambodia’s ruling family

Author: Global Witness

7 July 2016

Hostile Takeover…is the first ever exposé to reveal how, behind the scenes of Hun Sen’s dictatorial rein, his family is amassing vast personal fortunes, tracing the contours of a huge network of secret deal-making, corruption and cronyism which is helping secure the prime minister’s political fortress…

…This report provides the evidence base to prove what most Cambodians suspect – that Hun Sen has abused his position as prime minister to allow his relatives control of, or major stakes in, most of Cambodia’s key industries…

…Some of their companies’ operations have driven devastating impacts for Cambodian citizens and the environment, including land grabs that have caused mass displacements and destitution among Cambodia’s rural poor…

…Companies and investors entering into any kind of business arrangement with political elites or their family members, in an opaque business environment such as Cambodia’s, risk breaking national and international anti-corruption laws, facing financial penalties, and ultimately tarnishing their reputations. Whether these links are via formal partnerships, franchising, supply chains, distribution deals or even loose client relationships, international companies should not be doing business with individuals or companies with a history of corruption allegations and human rights abuses…

Read the full post here

Company response
12 September 2016

Nestlé response

Author: Nestlé

We are concerned by the information contained in Global Witness’ report. Nestle does not currently manufacture products or source raw materials directly in Cambodia. As highlighted in the report, our products are distributed by a company called UNT, with whom we have worked for a number of years.

Throughout the world, Nestle conducts business in compliance with relevant laws and international standards and we invest and work for the long term to positively impact individuals, communities and the planet. This includes the way we manage our relationships with distributors and other business partners and how we expect them to behave. Nestlé requires its suppliers, service providers, distributors and third parties acting on its behalf to act with integrity and to comply with anti-bribery laws. We reserve the right to change or end commercial relationships where these do not meet our requirements...

Download the full document here

Company response
12 September 2016

Unilever response

Author: Unilever

We have thoroughly reviewed the Global Witness Report, titled “Hostile Takeover: The corporate empire of Cambodia’s ruling family”, and remain committed to ensuring that our operations in Cambodia are fully aligned to Unilever’s Code of Business Principles and sustainable business agenda.’

Download the full document here

Company response
9 September 2016

Anheuser-Busch InBev response

Author: Anheuser-Busch InBev

...For the selection of business partners and distributors, a strict due diligence process is followed, and we set out the expectation that trade partners adhere to the highest standards of business conducts.

Separately, we were informed by our local distributor (Attwood Import Export Co. Ltd.) that the information as reported is incorrect.

Attwood has confirmed the following facts: the company is 100% owned by Madame Lim Chhiv Ho and there is no link between the company and the sister or any other family member of the Prime Minister in terms of ownership or governance.

Download the full document here

Company response
6 September 2016

LVMH response

Author: LVMH

Formal inquiries with the commercial registry show no association of Hung Sen family with Attwood business, the local distributor of Hennessy.

31 August 2016

"We don't care, we're still in power"

...The Hun family response was characteristically cynical. Within hours, three of the premier’s children had already taken to Facebook, accusing Global Witness of politically-motivated lies...

Hun Sen swiftly followed suit, posting a set of photos of himself and his children all raising a glass in his office – a message interpreted by many to mean, “We don’t care, we’re still in power.”...

Later in the day, the pro-government Fresh News website published an anonymous letter and accompanying cartoon which highlighted the culture of intimidation and fear surrounding freedom of expression in Cambodia. The cartoon was a doctored version of Nazi propaganda from 1943 showing Roosevelt and Churchill helping Stalin to execute a woman who symbolised peace on a ‘Jewish chopping block’. In this version, the war-time leaders were replaced with logos of Global Witness, the Phnom Penh Post and Cambodia Daily, with the Star of David substituted for the Cambodian flag. The accompanying letter threatened to kick both media outlets out of Cambodia...

Read the full post here