This past week, disturbing news has emerged from the border town of Bavet in Cambodia, where four employees of the New World Casino & Hotel have been arrested. The Khmer Times reported that local police confirmed the discovery of a body, which has been identified as 42 year old Vietnamese national. The report goes on to say that the man was discovered in his hotel room at the casino, and that the serious wounds to his throat and body left police in no doubt that he had been murdered. After further investigations were made, the four employees were arrested. The local police force stated that the deceased had crossed over from Vietnam into Cambodia in order to gamble, and having lost his money, had taken a loan from the suspects currently in custody. The police assert that, upon losing the loaned money too, he was unable to repay his debt, and was subsequently held hostage while ransom demands were made to his family. When the family of the man could not meet the demands, the suspects allegedly beat and tortured the man, eventually killing him.
New World Casino Hotel
Not an isolated incident
This story is not an isolated incident, with locals in Vietnam still unable to gamble in their homeland. This fact is fuelling the casino industry along the Cambodian border, with loan sharks having taken up residence there. Since then, frequent newspaper reports of debt collection deaths and injuries, have surfaced.
One such story was reported by VnExpress newswire four years ago, and involved an 18 year old Vietnamese resident, who borrowed VND40 million – the equivalent of $1,900, from local loan sharks. After a losing session, and a decision to flee home when he couldn't pay, the young man then made an ill fated decision to return to Cambodia some months later. He was quickly recognised and abducted, with his mother being sent a harrowing ransom note demanding VND66 million. No doubt the family who were of very limited means, struggled to raise the money, and soon after, a severed finger arrived with a note to say the debt had risen to VND73 million. The captors also stated that if no payment arrived, their son would be killed, and his organs harvested and sold. The family managed to borrow the money to free their son, who later told of seeing other gamblers held hostage, some of whom had lost body parts.
In another terrifying story reported in Sai Gon Tiep Thi newspaper a few years ago, a man had run up VND100 million ($4,750) in gambling debts, and had offered his 13 year old daughter as a hostage, to persuade his creditors that he would pay. Reports indicated that the loan sharks were linked to Bay Tang Casino, and sent a letter to the girl's grandparents when the father did not return with the money. They stated that the girl would be sold to a brothel in Thailand if the debt, and interest, was not paid in full. Fortunately, the family managed to find the money in this instance, and the girl was returned safely. Her father's location remains unknown.