Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hard News or Innuendo?

There is an organization calling itself Khmer Intelligence that circulates so-called confidential news by newsletter. They email it at irregular intervals. Although it uses a sort of journalistic format, the information disseminated clearly makes the reader understand what this group wants to say. On the basis of their selective news, it clearly demonstrates its anti-CPP and anti-government stance. As with most anonymous websites the source of their information is unknown and almost never revealed, as, of course, are the publishers. (And that includes my blog. I do, however, reveal my identity once people get in touch with me by email. I just don’t see the point in dragging my name all over the internet.)

Khmer Intelligence’s reports oftentimes contain sensitive information, as was the case a while back and in their most recent newsletter dated October 29.

A few months ago, they published that a number of banks in Cambodia are on shaky grounds on account of the real-estate bust. It specifically named the Foreign Trade Bank of Cambodia (FTB) and Canadia Bank. These banks are two of the largest banks in Cambodia. This prompted the government to issue a statement denying the allegations declaring that these banks are very stable and are not affected by the economic crisis, as their exposure to real estate loans was minimal.

On October 29, (I somehow got on their mailing list) Khmer Intelligence published another piece on these two banks.

Canadia Bank now controlled by Hun Sen's family (2)

Partly as a result of bad loans linked to the collapsing property sector, Canadia Bank, Cambodia's largest commercial bank, has recently come under the control of Prime Minister Hun Sen's family (wife and children). The information is not made public because of concerns about corruption probe and Canadia Bank is involved in several cases of land grabbing.
The Hun Sen family has also taken control of several large development projects abandoned by South Korean firms, such as the 42-storey Gold Tower.


I wonder what KI (any relation to KI-Media?) is implying? Why would Hun Sen’s family become involved in a bank that’s suffering from non-performing loans? I don’t get it. Are we to believe that otherwise Canadia Bank would have collapsed? I know for a fact from ‘confidential sources’ – people that are in the real estate business and do business with Canadia Bank – that there are people indebted to Canadia and that, for all intents and purposes, their property is practically owned by Canadia. Most likely, some people in the upper echelons of government also own shares in the bank, possibly, and I really don’t know, Hun Sen’s family too. But why would they now want to control the bank? To me it doesn’t make sense.

Now the biggest scoop is the info about the Gold Tower. A while back, I had already written about a rumor that the government exerted subtle pressure on the Koreans building the Gold Tower not to abandon it, as they obviously had run into financing problems. One mustn’t forget that the Koreans had invested a lot of money in the land already. If they just abandoned the project, they would have lost a bundle. So here too, it doesn’t make sense to expose oneself to a disproportionate risk when the Koreans were eventually able to get financing back on track in Korea based on the previous investment.

So I take it what KI really wants to say is that the ‘voracious’ Hun Sen family is extending its tentacles ever more and won’t rest until they own all of Cambodia? I guess in this case it would have been appropriate to show some documents confirming all this. This way it is just another rumor, which they are spreading to bring both the bank and Hun Sen’s family in disrepute. They really needn’t have bothered because their newsletter is only read by government opponents, such as SRP members, and a certain segment of overseas Khmer, and these people have enough disdain and outright hate for Hun Sen already.

Equally astounding is the other information they published.

Foreclosures expected by the end of the year (2)

The government finds it more and more difficult to prevent several nearly bankrupt commercial banks ridden with property-linked bad loans (Canadia Bank, Foreign Trade Bank) from conducting foreclosures. A large number of properties will be seized by the end of the year from the banks' defaulting clients and sold at auction. Observers expect a further drop in property prices in the next few months.

Again, what’s the intention of this piece? The government doesn’t like the banks to foreclose on non-performing loans? Ah, I get it; it’s bad for Cambodia’s reputation. It would undermine the already shaky state of the real estate and construction industry.

Whom is KI kidding? Probably themselves, because by now everybody knows that there hardly is any real estate industry to begin with (see my previous article). And will auctions revive this sector? I doubt it. Who would buy all those townhouses even at rock bottom bargain rates just to have them sit empty? How many Cambodians are there that have $30,000 for a townhouse (Eo only) - 4.5 x 20 m?

As I read it, they are seemingly happy that is has come to this point - that all those in their minds ill-gotten gains will now suffer or even collapse. A collapse of the entire sector and a few banks with it like in the U. S. would have much wider repercussions, and we really shouldn’t wish for that, should we? We’ll see what happens, but I don’t believe we’ll see large-scale auctions like in the U. S. These KI people really aren’t thinking clearly. It looks like their vision has become clouded and their intentions turned from being critical to being malicious, even pernicious. Perhaps I am wrong; I wish I were.


Anonymous said...

KI has been around for years. As a blog you have to take it with a grain of salt, but my guess is that a lot of truth gets published there, given the lack of alternative venues - a lack that the current regime is doing its best to exacerbate. So they must pay the price of some innuendo and outright lies being accepted by some or many as truth. That is the price of censorship.

Anonymous said...

KI is not the only ones. How about you?

KJE said...

If you are implying that I publish innuendo on this blog you may not be able to read and understand English properly. Except for two lapses where I confused the timeline in one, and where I received wrong information from the direct source in the other, my posts are clearly marked when they deal with rumors. I do not insinuate things that I couldn't prove.