Police in Svay Rieng province’s Bavet town on September 19 questioned more than 50 Vietnamese employees at Mok Bay Casino to establish the circumstances that led to a dramatic September 17 escape from their workplace.

Bavet police chief Em Sovannarith said that while the questioning was ongoing, his initial conclusion was that they fled because they believed the company had gone bankrupt and after hearing that police were entering the casino building to make arrests.

“After I questioned some of them, they alleged that the business was bankrupt and that they were about to be arrested. I have not yet accepted this as fact because I have not spoken with all of them. Once the questioning is completed, I expect to have a clearer picture,” he said.

Citing the fleeing employees, he said the business owner owed them money and escaped, so they were unsure if they would be paid. In addition, other Vietnamese people outside the casino had sent them messages claiming that the police had entered the building to round them up for further action.

Sovannarith confirmed that his officers had searched the casino building to establish if the escapees had passports or ID cards and later discovered that several of them did not have passports.

Separately on September 18, over 40 Vietnamese employees also ran away from Golden Phoenix Entertainment Casino in Chrey Thom commune of Kandal province’s Koh Thom district bordering Vietnam.

Provincial governor Kong Sophorn said they ran due to a miscommunication amid a labour dispute with their employer.