‘Economic adviser’ to Obama charged with forgery in CambodiaBy DPA, IANS
Thursday, December 23, 2010
PHNOM PENH - Police in Cambodia arrested a man claiming to be an adviser to US President Barack Obama and head of an international finance organisation that stores its assets in caves and sunken ships.
Ray Dam and associate Soush Saroeun were charged with forgery Monday after being arrested at Dam’s home in Phnom Penh. They were accused of forging documents alleging connections with HSBC Bank, the US government and the UN.
The pair had been operating a self-described international real-estate consultancy known as Asia Real Property out of modern offices in the Cambodian capital.
Asia Real Property’s promotional materials identified the firm as a subsidiary of a group called the Office of International Treasury Control that claimed to be “the largest single owner of gold and platinum bullion in the world”, holding cash and treasure in a variety of clandestine locations.
“Much of the treasure is buried in tunnels, bunkers and caves and in sunken ships,” the group said in an investment presentation. “Further treasures are hidden all around the world.”
Dam is identified on the group’s website as the “sole arbiter … of the Tripartite Gold Commission”, which was a post-World War II organisation that searched for gold stolen by Nazi Germany and was dissolved in 1998. The website also said Dam was an adviser to Obama and his predecessor George W. Bush.
Police said Dam and Saroeun had been advertising financial services to foreign joint venture partners in company documents claiming a connection to HSBC Bank. If convicted, they face a maximum of 16 years in prison.
According to an investigation report from police, Dam was born in Cambodia, fleeing the country for the US in the 1970s before returning in the early ’90s. US embassy officials said they had been unable to confirm whether he holds US citizenship.
Officials from Cambodia’s Ministry of Finance lodged a complaint against Dam and Saroeun after learning that the pair were operating without a real-estate licence. A government spokesman said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had ordered an investigation after learning that Dam had been posing as an adviser to the president of Cambodia’s Senate.