Government Scrubs Database That Exposed Hun Family Riches

In "Hostile Takeover," the anti-corruption group Global Witness exposed the Hun family's significant shares in more than 100 companies with a combined capital of over $200 million in sectors spanning the economy, from forestry to finance. It called the holdings "the tip of the iceberg," with far more wealth likely hiding behind shell companies and fake names in a country notorious for corruption.

...nearly all of the corporate information in the report was culled from the company filings the Commerce Ministry had made available to the public via a searchable database on its website, including who owned how many shares in each. In the absence of a freedom of information law, “Hostile Takeover” would have been virtually impossible to put together without it.

San Chey, country director for the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, a good-governance advocacy group, said he was inclined to believe that the Global Witness report at least played a part in the changes.

Denying the public access to shareholder information, Mr. Chey said, made Cambodia that much less democratic.

“Access to information and updated information is very, very crucial for democratic enforcement,” he said. “If you take it away, it makes people mistrust the institutions.”

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