In May 2023, the Malaysian Business Chamber of Cambodia (MBCC) and the Trust Regulator of Cambodia hosted an event addressing the key issues and what investors need to know about the Trust Regulations in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
The seminar “Trust Regulation in Cambodia: Insights from the Trust Regulator of Cambodia” aimed to promote trust practices and raise awareness among potential business founders, owners, and entrepreneurs said the MBCC.
Participants at the event included top officials from the Trust Regulator, as well as business leaders, trust companies and stakeholders in the trust sector.
Trust Market in Cambodia
Oknha Tan Khee Meng, President of MBCC addressed the attendees saying the Trust Regulations are key to unlocking investment in Cambodia and ensuring legacy for generations to come.
HE Datuk Eldeen Husaini Mohd Hashim – the Malaysian ambassador to Cambodia – added that the Cambodian government “places high importance on investment in the Trust Regulations which could be a main revenue source for the country” and that it could pave the way to more comprehensive investment and engagement.
The Trust Law only came into effect in Cambodia in 2019 and provides regulations and rules to govern the rights, duties and responsibilities of the trustor, trustee and beneficiary as well as a comprehensive understanding of each type of trust and its purpose.
Importantly, the Trust Law gives foreigners an opportunity to indirectly invest in land in Cambodia with the title of the property to be held by an approved Trust. The Trust Law of Cambodia does require that all trusts be registered with the government and that trustees meet certain qualifications and standards of conduct.
Trust Regulator Cambodia – By The Numbers 2023
Although the trust market is relatively new in Cambodia, the Trust Regulator made it clear that it is growing fast.
Since 2022, the value of funds invested in the various trusts has nearly doubled by the end of February 2023 and could reach as much as $1 billion according to Sok Dara, Director General of the Trust Regulator. He said that the Trust offers a “more effective investment policy for Cambodia to increase the cash flow, and direct investment into Cambodia, increase tax revenues, financial diversification, and transparent monitoring of capital flow”.
- There are 512 trusts in Cambodia.
- Total funds in Trusts were worth USD $940 million.
- Commercial Trusts (475) were the most popular and had a value of $490 million.
- Financial Trusts were second at a value of $175 million.
The Trust Regulator said that land and immovable property had seen the biggest growth since the Trust Regulations came into force.
Ms Chhean Sokhary, Director of Legal Affairs and Inspection – Department of Trust Regulator – explained the role of the Trust legal framework in Cambodia and the Trust sector development. Their main responsibilities include the registration of Trusts and law enforcement and she expanded on the functions of the regulations and Trust market mechanism in terms of licensing and the approval of Trusts.
Trust investment types in Cambodia include:
- Public Trust
- Commercial Trust
- Social Trust
- Individual Trust
Mr Hay Sovanna, Acting Director of the Trust Registration Department of Trust Regulator, explained that they also provide licenses to commercial banks for escrow services, In terms of approved Trust-compliant companies, by the end of February 2023:
- Trust companies – 7
- Trust operators providing retention or escrow services in the Trust sector – 5
- Independent individual trustees – 24
- Individual trustees of Trust companies – 14
- Valuation companies – 4
Q&A – Insights from the Trust Regulator of Cambodia
Attendees had the opportunity at the session to engage with the panellists including Phillip Trustee* who are one of a handful of firms granted a Trust license by the Trust Regulator (TR) in Cambodia to answer key questions about the mechanism and some specific topics.
These included issues of a will execution for Trusts and the process for beneficiaries, how the Trust Regulator hopes to attract talent to the industry, queries on title types as well as members of the Trust Regulator of Cambodia offering advice to trust investors.
- In 2022, Prince Trust, Cambodian Investment Management and Realestate.com.kh signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate on opportunities in attracting inbound investments through Cambodia’s Trust Law.
- Phillip Bank, the only Singaporean owned Commercial Bank operating in Cambodia, and its associate company Phillip Trustee (Cambodia), announced it had agreed to enter into a strategic partnership with Sarita Waterside to attract more investments, particularly from Singapore investors, while building trust in the real estate market in Cambodia.