Recruiters ordered to repay cheated clients

The Ministry of Labour ordered two firms that allegedly charged customers money for job placements abroad, but never lived up to their end of the bargain, to refund jilted customers.

Officials ordered Rice Natural Co Ltd and Century Manpower Co Ltd to pay back all victims when their representatives and plaintiffs pleaded their cases at the Ministry of Labour’s Department of Employment and Handicraft on Monday. Officials found they had promised work in Japan in exchange for hundreds of dollars each.

However, Rice Natural director Phon Sovannarith argued that he was also a victim in the case, because employee Let Phearun ripped off customers without his knowledge. Further, he said, he believes that after the complaint was filed to the Labour Ministry, people who were never customers falsely said they too were swindled.

“The company will provide compensation to workers based on their invoices, identity cards, and I am demanding they bring a witness, too,” Sovannarith said in an interview yesterday. “This is because at first, I received complaints from only 38 workers, but now there are hundreds.”

Those receiving refunds are required to show receipts of the transaction and identification cards.

Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour yesterday declined to comment on the matter.

Some of the hundreds of victims of the ruses at Rice Natural and Century Manpower said they each paid $400 for a foreign employment posting, and have been waiting three months with no results.

When ministry officials ruled in favour of the allegedly ripped-off customers, victim Chea Vutha expressed joy, but remained concerned about people who may have lost their proof of the transaction.

“We also asked the Labour Ministry’s officials to investigate for the victims who have lost the receipt that shows the payment to the company,” Vutha said. “In order to know whether they are real victims or not [they must have receipts], but some of them have lost their receipts.”

Chhan Sokunthea, head of women and children for rights group Adhoc yesterday said that up to 500 victims require reimbursement.

“We have informal information that there are about 500 victims,” Sokunthea said. “We appeal to the ministry to solve the problem for [all victims].”