Death of a Cambodian tycoon linked to a Chinese fugitive – Radio Free Asia

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The Cambodian national football team wore black armbands during their Southeast Asian Games match against Singapore on Wednesday night in tribute to Phnom Penh Crown Football Club owner Rithy Samnang, who died that morning, according to a press release from the Cambodian Football Federation. It is understood that Samnang, who turned 41 in March, was suffering from cancer.

Outside of sports, Samnang had business interests in various fields ranging from digital payments to hotels. He was not only incredibly wealthy, but also very connected. His wife Phu Cherlin is the daughter of Kok An, a senator from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. In 2017, his brokerage firm Askap Gold was revealed by the Phnom Penh Post counting among its “main clients” Hun Maly, the youngest daughter of Prime Minister Hun Sen, for whom it processed $600,000 in payments in a single month.

A FRG survey last year revealed that Samnang had leveraged some of those high-profile connections for the benefit of another business partner, Chinese fugitive Xu Aimin. Xu became a naturalized Cambodian citizen in 2005. Eight years later, a Chinese court found him guilty of running a $1.75 billion illegal online gambling network from Cambodia and sentenced him to 10 years in prison. While 36 of his accomplices were extradited, Xu remained in Cambodia and at large.

In 2019, six years after Xu was convicted for the illegal gambling scheme, he and Samnang opened the KB Hotel, a luxury property in Sihanoukville whose centerpiece – ironically enough – was a 650 square meter casino. .

More recently, in February this year VOD reported about victims of human trafficking who claimed to have been detained, beaten and forced to work on scam operations in hotel-related buildings.

In the middle of a tribute video posted to Facebook on Wednesday by Samnang’s Phnom Penh Crown football team, was footage of Samnang giving a speech at Kantha Bopha Hospital. Xu’s face and torso are partially visible in the video to his right. The couple had donated $200,000 to the hospital on behalf of an investment company they ran together.

The donation had been overseen by the head of the Cambodian military police, General Sao Sokha, who is also president of the Cambodian Football Federation. On Wednesday, the federation released photos of Sokha paying tribute and burning incense over Samnang’s body, which was covered in a white cloth.

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