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Hun Sen Should Be Turned Away From Davos Summit: Global Witness

Inside view at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Global Witness alleges that Hun Sen has used his position as prime minister to enrich his family's wealth.

Anti-graft group Global Witness has said that the World Economic Forum held in the Swiss town of Davos this week, should deny entry to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The campaigning organization, which released a scathing investigation into the business interests of the premier’s family last year, said potential international investors in Hun Sen’s Cambodia should be wary of widespread corruption and nepotism.

“It’s not surprising that Prime Minister Hun Sen is courting the wealthy elite in Davos,” Alice Harrison, communications advisor for Global Witness, said in a statement. “He and his family have Cambodia’s economy so sewn up that new investment may well end up in their own pockets.”

Harrison added that if the Davis summit held true to its founding principles “it should close its doors to kleptocrats who systematically and violently loot their countries, at devastating cost to the population.”

The annual meeting in Davos began on Tuesday and will continue until Friday.

On Tuesday Hun Sen hosted an event titled “Cambodia: The rising star of Asean”.

Phay Siphan, a government spokesman, accused Global Witness of spreading false information about Cambodia.

“Cambodia has received respect and is seen as an economic tiger of Asean with a GDP growth rate of 7 percent in the last decade,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “Cambodia is also a destination for a high number of international investors who feel warm in the region. Cambodia’s middle class also grows steadily which provide foundation for economic potential.”

Global Witness alleges that Hun Sen has used his position as prime minister to enrich his family by gaining a large share of the country’s most lucrative industries and establishing relationships with top international brands such as Apple, Visa, Nestle and Honda, while many Cambodians continue to live in poverty.

“Investors or companies looking to do business in Cambodia should think carefully about the significant legal, financial, and reputational risks of operating in such a toxic business environment,” Harrison said.