Cambodia says Frenchman may be financially linked to Bo case

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 27, 2012 5:16 AM
Cambodia says Frenchman may be financially linked to Bo case

By Prak Chan Thul

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - A French architect in detention in Cambodia is being held because of alleged financial links to China's biggest political scandal in two decades and a Chinese judge could come to help with his questioning, a Cambodian minister said on Wednesday.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith told reporters that Patrick Henri Devillers had been detained because of suspected financial links to Gu Kailai, wife of deposed Chinese politician Bo Xilai.

Gu Kailai has been named by China as a suspect in the murder last November of British businessman Neil Heywood. Both Heywood and Devillers were known to be close to her.

"Up to now, there has not been any charge against Patrick Devillers and, according to research I have conducted, this Patrick Devillers was importantly in charge of keeping money for the wife of Bo Xilai," Khieu Kanharith said.

He said Devillers, 52, who has lived in Cambodia for at least five years, would not be extradited for now. China had not provided any evidence to Cambodia but might send an investigating judge to interrogate him, he said.

Khieu Kanharith said that even though there was an extradition treaty between the two countries, China would have to go through Interpol as the case involved four countries, Britain, France, China and Cambodia.

Neither China's Foreign Ministry nor Justice Ministry immediately responded to a request for comment. Beijing has made no public remarks about Devillers' detention.

Devillers entered Bo's inner circle while living in Dalian in the 1990s when Bo, who was mayor of the city at the time, helped him to chase up an unpaid debt.

Devillers and Gu gave the same residential address when they set up a British company in 2000 in the British resort town of Bournemouth, while a property investment firm registered by Devillers in 2006 in Luxembourg listed the Beijing address of the Ang Dao Law Firm, a firm affiliated with Gu.

China is Cambodia's biggest political and economic ally, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars of aid, loans and investment into the impoverished country in recent years.

(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Alan Raybould and Robert Birsel)