The Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) has issued a warning letter to Prince Sisowath Thomico, an election candidate for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), telling him to declare his assets with the body within a week or face the possibility of imprisonment, according to a letter obtained Tuesday.
The letter, which was signed Monday by Om Yentieng, president of the ACU and an adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen, states that Prince Thomico is the only one among 149 officials or members of the royal family not to have declared his assets to the government in 2013, an act that is required under Cambodia’s Anti-Corruption Law.
“The ACU would like to warn Prince Thomico and insist that he declares his assets and debts,” Mr. Yentieng said in the letter.
“If Prince Thomico will not declare his assets and debts within a week after this warning letter is issued, excluding holidays, the ACU will take the case to the court.”
The letter added that the ACU had already asked Prince Thomico on two earlier occasions to declare his assets and that if he did not abide by the law he could face up to one year in jail.
Prince Thomico, who recently joined the CNRP and is the personal secretary for the Queen Mother, said Tuesday that officials from the Royal Palace had arrived at his home on Monday night and handed him a plain white envelope containing the letter. He said that he refused to take the letter since the envelope did not come bearing the emblem of the ACU. He also said that the royal family had not engaged in any corruption.
“First, the letter was inside an unmarked white envelope,” Prince Thomico said.
“Secondly, I am the member of the Royal Palace, which is an independent institution that is not involved in any corruption.”
He added that he had already declared his assets two years ago after being advised to do so by late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, to whom he served as personal assistant for many years.
“They [the CPP] are using this issue to intimidate me. The ACU is a tool of the CPP and is being used in the same way that the judicial system is used to attack the opposition party,” the Prince said.
Prince Thomico received the letter just hours after he had participated in a 3,000-strong rally organized by the CNRP at Freedom Park in Phnom Penh on Monday, where he spoke out against the government’s policies and the leadership of Mr. Hun Sen.
Top Sam, who chairs the National Council for Anti-Corruption, defended the warning letter sent by Mr. Yentieng.
“This is not to intimidate, it is just the implementation of the law, which everyone needs to follow,” he said.
By law, all government officials ranked above department director are obligated to declare their assets and debts once every two years. Those declarations are made privately to the ACU.
© 2013, Neou Vannarin. All rights reserved.