November 30, 2013
The Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) arrested a senior customs official in Preah Sihanouk province and two Electricte du Cambodge (EdC) officials in Mondolkiri province in separate corruption cases this week, ACU and court officials said Friday.
Mondolkiri Provincial Court prosecutor Khut Sopheang said two staff members of the EdC provincial branch—Suot Sarim, a commercial office worker and Ny Sophor, a cashier’s assistant—were charged on Thursday.
Mr. Sopheang said the suspects are accused of having forged documents and stolen more than 400 million riel, or about $100,000 from the state power company.
“The pair arrested by the ACU in Sen Monorom City on Wednesday were charged with three counts of criminal offenses under articles 599 and 627 of the Penal Code,” he said.
“They have both been placed in pretrial detention in the provincial prison since Thursday after they confessed.”
The suspects had forged documents to steal money, the prosecutor said, but he would not elaborate.
A senior EdC official in Phnom Penh, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said internal audits proved “systematic
corruption” had taken place at the state-owned company’s Mondolkiri office.
“Generally, we audit the income generated from selling electricity twice a year,” he said. “The arrested persons took the money from the customers who went to pay their electricity bills.”
The pair took the customers’ payments but made no record of it, he claimed.
In Preah Sihanouk province, also on Wednesday, the ACU arrested Phy Rith, deputy director of the provincial department of Customs and Excise, accusing him of overcharging on fees set by the state, ACU administrative chief Chea Chanthor said.
The suspect was taken to Phnom Penh for questioning the same day, Ms. Chanthor said.
“Yes, we arrested a deputy director of the [Preah Sihanouk] provincial department of Customs and Excise,” she said on Friday.
“Now we are sending him back from Phnom Penh to Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court, where he will be charged,” she said.
Ms. Chanthor declined to comment further, saying she did not have details of the corruption allegations made against the suspect.
ACU vice chairman Chhay Savuth confirmed the two separate arrests, but also declined to elaborate when asked how much money was involved in the case of the Customs and Excise official.
ACU chairman Om Yentieng said in a message that he would provide an official comment on the cases on Tuesday.
Mr. Yentieng was quoted by an online news service as saying the arrested customs officer was questioned by the ACU multiple times prior to his actual arrest, and was sent to the provincial court on Friday to face charges of “overcharging fees beyond the government’s official fees.”
Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court prosecutor Bou Bun Hang declined to comment on the case.