Anti-Corruption Unit Head Tells Donors to Stop Asking Questions

Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) chief Om Yentieng on Wednesday told donor countries to keep their noses out of how the institution goes about its work while at the same time informing the public that he was powerless to stop the courts from dropping corruption cases.

In a speech at the opening of a workshop held by Transparency International Cambodia on monitoring efforts to stamp out corruption, Mr. Yentieng defended the few arrests the ACU has made since it began functioning in 2010.

“Not everything is corruption, so we won’t always make arrests,” he said. “And where we do, we cannot prosecute. [Prosecutors] take that role. We need to comply with the law—it doesn’t mean we need to comply with donors,” Mr. Yentieng said.

Mr. Yentieng also said that he had become tired of being asked by the media how many cases have been seen through, and explained that despite the ACU furnishing courts with intelligence and evidence, they might not always accept it, meaning cases would be dropped.

“The media says ‘how many cases?’ But we don’t talk about quantity. Sometimes there are no cases in a year, but look at the GDP [instead, as an indicator of development].”

Mr. Yentieng made reference to the arrest last week of a clerk at the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court on allegations of corruption and bribe-taking, but side-stepped a reporter’s question when asked about whether or not the ACU will go after higher-ranking officials at the court.

“I think I should not answer your question, because this is the court’s role,” he said. “I believe that the court will look at the case and I don’t know if it will investigate other people.”

He said the ACU would need an order from the court to delve any deeper into the case.

In his earlier speech, however, Mr. Yentieng spoke of the powers bestowed upon him by the law, stating that the ACU can investigate anyone and anything without the consent of a prosecutor or court warrant.

He also said that he hopes lessons on anti-corruption can be included in the country’s school curriculum so that “people will hate corruption and be aware of it.”

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