Anti-Corruption Unit Says Nepotism Rife in Oddar Meanchey

The Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) on Thursday released a statement warning provincial department directors in Oddar Meanchey to cease exploiting their positions for personal gain after a series of complaints from civil servants.

The ACU statement, which does not name complainants or offenders, outlines claims of nepotism, abuse of state resources and staff performing duties beyond their mandate.

“The complaints revealed that management and leadership at provincial departments are acting improperly, so the ACU reminds a number of provincial departments in Oddar Meanchey province to cease some existing, improper activities,” reads the statement, posted Thursday to the ACU’s website.

The statement outlined a number of complaints, including one where a department director allegedly hired his son or daughter as head of accounting.

“It is a conflict of interest that should not be happening,” the statement reads. “Either the father should resign as department director, or his child should resign.”

The statement also says that contract civil servants—part-time government workers in training—are signing documents, a practice beyond their intended role.

“Contract civil servants do not have the right to sign on any document,” the statement says. “Contract civil servants just play the role of assistant to administration staff and should only be doing jobs such as typing, copying or delivering documents.”

The ACU warns civil servants against exploiting government property for personal gain, but fails to give details of particular complaints of such practice.

Violations can incur prison terms of two to five years and fines of up to 10 million riel, or about $2,500. Forgery of official documents issued by a public administrator is punishable by imprisonment of five to 10 years.

Chhay Savuth, the ACU’s vice chairman, said that with the complaints made public, the alleged offenders should rectify the situation or face the law.

“If those things are not changed, we will take legal measures,” he said. “Firstly, we published the statement. If the associated persons change to proper practice, the issue is finished.”

Asked why the statement didn’t name the accused, Mr. Savuth transferred questions to ACU chairman Om Yentieng, who could not be reached for comment.

Srey Naren, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said that nepotism is rife in Oddar Meanchey, with up to 20 of 24 departments having blood relatives working under the same roof.

“There is too much corruption because of the nepotism in provincial departments where children, siblings and relatives work together,” Mr. Naren said.

Oddar Meanchey was the last holdout for the Khmer Rouge. Bordering Thailand, the remote area only came under central government control in 1998.

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