Thirty-eight people, including a former Health Ministry official under investigation by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) for accepting more than $350,000 in bribes, were this week appointed as advisers to new Senate President Say Chhum, according to a royal decree obtained Wednesday.
In two earlier decrees signed by King Norodom Sihamoni the day after the death of former Senate and CPP president Chea Sim on June 8, all advisers to both Mr. Chhum in his previous capacity as the Senate’s vice president and to Chea Sim had their positions canceled.
A royal decree dated Monday shows that a number of former advisers to Chea Sim have been granted new positions as advisers to Mr. Chhum, who was named one of two deputy CPP leaders over the weekend.
Among Chea Sim’s old advisers now advising Mr. Chhum are Mom Sarin, who previously served as Chea Sim’s cabinet chief, and Yim Leang, a son of Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhay Ly who was the chief of Chea Sim’s bodyguard unit.
Also appointed adviser to Mr. Chhum is Duong Socheat, the former director of the National Malaria Center who was found to have taken more than $350,000 in bribes related to contracts from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
In November 2013, a Global Fund internal investigation determined that Mr. Socheat had colluded with foreign manufacturers of mosquito nets to siphon Global Fund money, leading to an ACU investigation that is still ongoing.
Contacted Wednesday, Mr. Socheat declined to comment on his new appointment.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said Mr. Chhum had selected only the best of Chea Sim’s old advisers, before going outside that circle to find other well-qualified individuals.
“Samdech Say Chhum does not want many advisers because he wants only smart people to help him at his workplace,” Mr. Eysan said.
“In the past, some of the advisers to Samdech Chea Sim did not need a salary from the state budget, but simply wanted the honor and dignity of accompanying Samdech Chea Sim.”