ACU Meets With Global Fund Over Net Bribe Case

The Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) met with visiting staff of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria last week to follow up on the Fund’s allegations that a former government health official had collected some $350,000 in bribes to manipulate mosquito net contracts.

Last month, ACU chairman Om Yentieng said the Global Fund was sending staff to meet with the ACU on June 5 to look into some 30 to 40 bank accounts belonging to a “third person,” an apparent reference to Duong Socheat, the former head of the Health Ministry’s National Malaria Center.

On Friday, Mr. Yentieng confirmed that he was investigating the case but declined to comment further.

Also on Friday, Global Fund spokesman Seth Faison said that staff from the group’s grant management division were in Cambodia meeting with the ACU, but denied that they were taking any part in an investigation.

“They are not investigators, and they are not investigating,” he said. “No Global Fund staff from the Office of the Inspector General are currently in Cambodia.”

In 2013, the Global Fund’s Inspector General’s Office released the results of a yearslong investigation alleging that Mr. Socheat—who has since left his post—and other health officials had taken bribes to secure $12 million worth of contracts paid for with Global Fund grants.

The ACU claimed that it could not bring a case against any of those implicated, either because there was not enough evidence or because they were contracted employees and out of its jurisdiction.

Despite the government’s decision not to prosecute, it agreed to reimburse the Global Fund for the total $450,000 worth of bribes the officials took.

blomberg@cambodiadaily.com, narim@cambodiadaily.com

© 2015, All rights reserved.