The ANZ has distanced itself from reports its local partner in a Cambodia joint-venture bank has been accused of illegal logging. Source: ABC News
Twelve years ago, the ANZ teamed up with Cambodian conglomerate the Royal Group to form ANZ Royal.
Their 45% partner in the bank is one of the country’s most powerful tycoons, Kith Meng, an Australian citizen.
Mr Kith’s Royal Group is also developing a 400-megawatt hydro-power dam on the Sesan River in north-eastern Cambodia, along with Chinese partners.
Police say a company working for Royal Group cut down trees around the Sesan 2 dam, then brought the timber to an area set aside for clearing, as a way of disguising illegal logging.
“Kith Meng’s logging of state-timber outside the reservoir is causing concern about the loss of natural resources in Sesan district and of imminent disaster if not prevented,” said the police report, according to the Cambodia Daily newspaper.
The ANZ said the accusation was a matter for the Royal Group.
“While the Royal Group is ANZ’s minority partner in ANZ Royal Bank, we can confirm ANZ and ANZ Royal Bank have no involvement with dam projects whatsoever,” ANZ spokesman Stephen Ries said.
Royal Group founder Kith Meng has not yet commented on the allegations.
Kith Meng grew up in Canberra, after fleeing the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge. He returned to Cambodia in 1991 and got his big break selling photocopiers to the United Nations peacekeeping mission.
Since then, he has built a formidable business empire, that today includes luxury cars, helicopters, a phone network, hotels, insurance, fertiliser and property.
A United States diplomatic cable that surfaced on WikiLeaks described him as a “relatively young and ruthless gangster”.