ACU Downgrades Corruption Claims Against Tourism Officials

Corruption allegations against two Tourism Ministry officials will no longer be pursued by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) because the officials are guilty only of “administrative mistakes” and have been punished by the ministry, unit chairman Om Yentieng said Tuesday.

The ACU posted to its website Tuesday a three-page clarification from Tourism Minister Thong Khon, which came in response to anonymous complaints made last year of irregularities against Ten Ratana, director of the ministry’s education and training department.

Mr. Ratana was accused of taking bribes from people undertaking tour guide training, extorting between $1,500 and $3,000 from them, embezzling about $9,900 from mission budgets, embezzling unspecified amounts from training courses and postponing a tour guide training session without notice.

In his response posted Tuesday, Mr. Khon wrote that Mr. Ratana was called to a meeting a week after the allegations surfaced at which he took responsibility for some of the accusations but denied others. An investigation was then launched into his corrupt activities, he wrote, and Mr. Ratana has since been removed from his position.

In the letter, Mr. Khon also clarified his ministry’s position on In Sokea, who was a deputy director of the Siem Reap provincial tourism department when he was accused in an October 11 anonymous complaint of extorting $3,600.

The minister wrote that Mr. Sokea had acknowledged his crime—details of which were not provided—returned the money to the complainant, and had since been demoted to “regular staff” within the provincial tourism department.

Addressing the embezzlement claims against Mr. Ratana, Mr. Khon said they were simply the result of “administrative confusion,” and should not be classified as corruption.

Contacted by telephone, Mr. Yentieng, the ACU chairman, said the allegations of corruption against both officials had been downgraded to administrative errors. He said the ACU would not pursue the cases further.

“These affairs we have investigated, and the evidence we obtained showed that they were administrative mistakes, so the ministry laid administrative penalties,” he said.

Asked if any legal action would be taken against the two men, he reiterated his position, saying there was no evidence that money changed hands in Mr. Ratana’s case and that Mr. Sokea had made amends.

“If it was a bribery case, I would be crazy not to send it to court,” he said.

“The final result is that administrative penalties have been used. If we found more evidence, we would continue to proceed with the case whether they have been removed from their positions or not.”

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