On Sunday evening, 11 Feb, a new user signed up to www.khmer440.com to post the following: “On Friday, Feb 9 Infamous con man and owner of Valentinos, an unsuccessful gay nightclub in Phnom Pehn, Robert Schmalohr was arrested by Khmer police on fraud charges stemming from his native Germany. He was also under investigation by a well known NGO dealing in child trafficking.”
On 20 Feb, the Phnom Penh Post published:
“A prominent German businessman has been deported from Cambodia and subsequently taken into custody in Germany on suspicion of fraud in a scheme allegedly involving some €1.2 million (almost $1.5 million).
Robert Schmalohr, who headed an investment company in Cambodia to set up a string of businesses dominating Street 174, or “Sabay Sabay” street, was deported on February 15, according to Uk Hai Sela, the head of investigations at the Ministry of Interior’s Immigration Department.
Hai Sela said he had no knowledge of the allegations, only that Schmalohr’s passport had expired and he was arrested by authorities for overstaying his visa.” (However, it should be noted that: “Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Robert Schmalohr had been charged in Germany in connection with a purported pyramid scheme. In fact, he was not charged, but has been taken into custody and is a suspect in the fraud case.”)
The allegations are for an alleged pyramid scheme are related with the German company eVision.
In light of all of this, over the past several weeks there have been lively discussions on the forum (here) about what has transpired, and Khmer440 received an anonymous email this week. We would like to stress that we do not know how much of the following is true or not, or the source, but thought that it painted an interesting picture and could add to the discussion:
Summary of the Tangled Web of PEEG.
Firstly, about Robert himself. Big loud rich arrogant and abrasive German, but respected his staff and seemed to genuinely want to make a positive impact here. Painfully naive. All of the charges related to kids were 100% bullshit. They were filed in the German embassy in Thailand but the embassy in Cambodia and the German authorities didn’t know about it. Even the arrest report and all “official” documentation were not being given.
It is believed he was set up. Too many, way too convenient things occurred. Being told not to bring his body guards with him on the trip he got arrested on. The German embassy in Cambodia not knowing anything about it. No khmer media being aware of the story.
It was likely his lawyers and/or the tangled web of people he got himself wrapped up in. He got wrapped up in every single cliche that foreigners get stuck in here (paying people, funding orphanages, surrounding himself with opportunistic people, disbarred proven scammers as his lawyer). It is like a high end version of the guys who arrive in Cambodia with a bit of money and get convinced to invest in amazing new ideas by guys in Sorya Mall. So when he stopped paying and funding the web, suddenly he was arrested. Once his company was signed to somebody they approved of/could control (Rothanak Sovan), the charges disappeared. I do not know the details of the paperwork on the transfers but I just knew they were changing people and it was the Phnom Penh post article (which is by far the best researched piece about the whole thing), where they said the name of the new Director, that showed me who it was.
It was possible for his companies to be taken control of because he was convinced that all the companies should be registered with a “trust” in New Zealand. Recommended by and created by known con artist Shaan Stevens. The trust was put in the name of Francis Ganderton, a friend of Shaan’s who he brought from New Zealand and another guy, named Matte John Birchler. They convinced him that the Cambodians are notorious for seizing assets (a lie) so if he registers it with the Trust, it is protected………ironically
It all seems very similar to Shaan’s past MO where another millionaire got locked up: https://www.nbr.co.nz/article/
It should also be noted that he was disbarred from being a lawyer due to this case so is not legally allowed to practice law. Here are a list of news articles: https://www.nbr.co.nz/tags/
Incorporation details of the Trust with Francis name on it. I do not know who the khmer name on this one is: https://opencorporates.com/
And another similar one in Shaan’s name, which also includes the khmer lawyer: https://opencorporates.com/
A list of many companies Shaan has had registered over the years and similar patterns start to occur and similar names appear: https://opencorporates.com/
Website of Matte Bircher: http://www.matteb.net
Guiness Gallagher Advisory limited, the supposed law firm is also an interesting thing when it is dug into and now out of all this that happened, are magically opening a branch here now, in one of the ill gotten properties they obtained from this PEEG fiasco. I believe that is this incorporation: https://opencorporates.com/
Made on December 1st.
They are currently reaching out to companies in Cambodia and even some of the chambers of commerce to convince them to put their assets in a trust in New Zealand………So This scam seems to be aimed to be far reaching.
Website of GG international: http://gg-int.com/about.html
In the end, Robert was stupidly naive.
There was some very high Cambodians in the mix but I am not sure how high the web went and what their involvement was but for the sake of everybody , whether they were involved or not, it is better to keep their names from being mentioned.
Robert went back to Germany himself willingly, because he didn’t feel safe in Cambodia. To answer a bench warrant in Germany for failure to appear for questioning in relation to a potential ponzi scheme. I don’t know much about the details of the case in Germany or his business there, but he felt better to go there than stay in Cambodia.
The trust, getting involved in the orphanage funding, being introduced to high up Cambodians, being told to pay money to get a Cambodian passport and favour with the “elite” here was all recommended by Shaan Stevens.
The Companies PEEG currently own:
GameStation Social Lounge
Generations Sports Bar
Valentino’s Club and Lounge
Valentino’s Suites Hotel
Richly Boutique Hotel
The Happy Damrei
Riverhouse Asian Bistro and Lounge
KPR – KAMPUCHEA PARTY REPUBLIC
In addition, Roberts inner circle was:
Suon Virakpanha (his khmer lawyer)
When it all happened, Dwight Hayden was moved out of the company completely and a more easily controllable fall guy was put as director (Rothanak Sovan, A manager of a cafe). While Shaan, Francis and Panha really took control of everything. Trevor Piper ran away.
As with everything, I always see the ones that gained the most from things like this to be the most suspicious. Sit in Happy Damrei any day and you will see this collection of characters there all day long.