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Botched Bank Job Masterminded by Employee With Debt, Police Say

PHNOM PENH - Police say they now consider the enacted hostage crisis in Kampong Cham province Wednesday a hoax, masterminded by an employee of a local bank who was in debt and wanted to rob his own bank.

Late Wednesday, police arrested six suspects, five of them Acleda bank employees, said Chhim Kimhong, deputy commander of Kampong Cham provincial police.

Police had originally thought that two suspects had taken bank staff hostage, but in the end they were working together, he said.

Police suspect that Sim Kimthan, a chief cashier at the Acleda branch bank, located in Arak Thnort commune, Stung Treng district, was at the center of the scheme, he said. The cashier was allegedly in debt and owed around $20,000 to the bank, Chhim Kimhong said.

In Channy, president of Acleda, confirmed that five of the suspects were bank employees. They will be terminated from their positions, and the bank will file a complaint for fraud charges with the provincial authorities, he said.

At this time, it is unknown whether the group made off with any money, and the bank is currently conducted an audit to see if any money is missing, he said.