CAO Cases

Arne Hoel, The World Bank

East Asia & the Pacific

Cambodia / VEIL II-01/Ratanakiri Province

Households living in Ratanakiri Province (names confidential)
Date Filed
February 10, 2014
Loss of land, water concerns, child labor, information disclosure, community consultation and due diligence
Case Status
Open - Ombudsman



Vietnam Enterprise Investments Limited (VEIL or the Fund) is a closed-end investment fund which has been in operation since 1995.  The Fund has a capital base of just over US$500 million  and is managed by Dragon Capital Management Ltd., a subsidiary of Dragon Capital Group (DCG).  IFC has invested US$16.4 million in the Fund. The Fund aims to invest in publicly or privately issued securities of Vietnamese companies, with the stated aim to provide incentives for the development of Vietnamese capital markets by increasing liquidity of Vietnamese securities. One of the companies DCG invests in through the Fund is Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL).  


In February 2014, local members of 17 villages in Ratanakiri Province in Cambodia lodged a complaint with CAO with the support and assistance of five Cambodian NGOs. The complaint raises a range of environmental and social concerns about HAGL’s Cambodia operations, including impacts on water sources and fish resources, loss of land, lack of compensation, lack of information disclosure and engagement with the people, threat to spiritual, cultural and indigenous practices, as well as use of child labor.  The complaint alleges non-compliance with IFC policies and procedures and with Cambodian laws. The complainants requested that CAO keep their identities confidential. 


CAO Action

During CAO's assessment of the complaint, the Complainants and HAGL agreed to engage in a voluntary dispute resolution process. CAO has convened regular mediated meetings between the parties since the launch of the dispute resolution process.   Various agreements were reached along the way, and communicated by the parties in Joint Statements, which are available below under “View Documents”.   In March 2015, CAO released a communiqué regarding the adoption of a mediation agreement by the parties to the VEIL complaint and the issuance of their first Joint Statement regarding the ongoing mediation process.  In a second Joint Statement (July 2015), the parties informed the public about an early agreement between the company and three villages found not to be directly affected by HAGL's operations, and outside its economic land concessions.  A third Joint Statement (September 2015) sets out the agreement between the company and a further three villages that are within HAGL's concessions, but will not be affected due to the company's commitment not to clear and develop any further land.  The agreement between the parties further sets out plans for a joint field trip to demarcate the boundaries of community and company land, and HAGL’s commitment to establish a community grievance mechanism for its Cambodia operations.


A fourth Joint Statement (September 2015) between the company and the 11 most directly affected communities sets out first agreements for this group of villages, including the plan to carry out a joint trip to the villages with local authorities, NGO advisors and CAO to demarcate boundaries of company and village land.  Should the company be found to have developed community land, the company agreed to first negotiate compensation, and, should that fail, return this land to the villages. A fifth Joint Statement (July 2016) summarizes the outcomes of a joint trip to two villages, which was conducted in January 2016. During the joint trip, the parties confirmed that the villages are outside the boundaries of HAGL’s current Economic Land Concession (ELC). However, the 2 villages continue to engage with the company, through CAO led mediation on other items as agreed in September 2015 (see fourth joint statement for more information).  


Between January and June 2016, the company and community representatives, members of the Provincial Government, NGO advisors and the CAO team conducted joint trips to several affected villages to establish which lands are under dispute. Furthermore, the government has established a working group to assist the parties.  A progress report providing more details about the process and outcomes so far was issued in July 2016.  


In July 2017, following a series of CAO-facilitated meetings, the representatives of 11 affected villages, HAGL and NGO representatives issued a Joint Statement setting out additional agreements to address some of the concerns raised in the complaint, including the return of spirit mountains, and implementation of an earlier agreement to restore water sources and roadways. The parties agreed to cooperate with the Government to enable the full implementation of the Statement. 


From November to December 2017, the representatives of 12 villages, HAGL, a Government Working Group, NGO representatives, and the CAO team conducted the first round of a joint land demarcation process, with the objective of returning spirit mountains, burial grounds, and chrops and chraps (natural salt water and water areas) to the villagers. A second round of land demarcation was conducted in March 2018, bringing the demarcated areas to a total of 45, including 20 Spirit Mountains, 14 chrops, 8 burial areas, and 3 chraps. Following the demarcation process, the parties released a Joint Statement on March 20, 2018 setting out their commitment to continue to work together through the CAO process to implement agreements reached, and to address the remaining concerns and land issues of the communities.


In January of 2019, HAGL informed CAO of its decision to withdraw from the CAO-convened dispute resolution process, and to instead seek the support of the government for resolution of the communities’ outstanding concerns. The Government of Ratanakiri Province requested CAO’s assistance with the final stages of the return of land, to complete the implementation of outcomes from the joint land demarcation process (as documented in the Joint Statement dated March 20, 2018).  Following this request, CAO remained involved in monitoring the implementation of this land return agreement.  


In October 2019, HAGL indicated an interest in re-engaging in dialogue. In December 2019, CAO met separately with HAGL and the complainants, and both confirmed their commitment to resolving outstanding issues in dispute through a CAO-convened dispute resolution process. In February 2020, CAO released a progress report which provides an overview of the dispute resolution process and outlines the efforts made to date by the parties. The report is available in English and Khmer.


Given the overlap of parties in dialogue and issues for discussion with a subsequent CAO case, Cambodia: TPBank and VPBank-01 (link below), the two cases will be merged and handled by CAO through one dispute resolution process.


All documents pertaining to the case are available under "View Documents" below.



A dispute resolution process is ongoing.


Status as of February 28, 2020

Project information

Project Name & Number
VEIL II 20926
Financial Markets
Dragon Capital Group
East Asia & the Pacific
Environmental Category
Quasi-equity US$16.4 million

Case Tracker


  • Eligible: Completed
  • Assessment Period: Completed
  • Facilitating Settlement: In Process


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