ACU Chief Says Global Fund Probe in ‘Final Stage’

The head of the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) said Wednesday that he would send officials to Singapore today for the “final stage” of an investigation into corruption within the Health Ministry, first revealed in a probe made public in November last year by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Among the most damning findings in the Global Fund’s investigation was that officials at the National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control (CNM) colluded with foreign manufacturers of mosquito nets to siphon off Global Fund money intended for use in the fight against malaria.

Anti-Corruption Unit chief Om Yentieng speaks to members of the National Assembly's Anti-Corruption Commission during a meeting at the parliament building on Thursday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Anti-Corruption Unit chief Om Yentieng speaks to members of the National Assembly’s Anti-Corruption Commission during a meeting at the parliament building on Thursday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

More than $350,000 in bribes was paid to Duong Socheat, who retired as a director at the CNM in 2011, and about $60,000 to his deputy, according to the report, which said Swiss firm Vestergaard Frandsen and Sumitomo Chemical Singapore made illicit payments to the officials to secure Global Fund contracts.

Om Yentieng, speaking after a meeting with the National Assembly’s Anti-Corruption Commission on Wednesday, said the ACU is cooperating with Singaporean officials to bring the investigation to a close.

“Tomorrow we will send our investigators to Singapore,” he said. “I think it is the final stage of our total investigation.”

Asked by reporters why the ACU’s investigation has taken so long, considering that the Global Fund had already done much of the legwork, Mr. Yentieng demurred.

“It has not even been more than a year. It is not too long,” he said. “You said there is enough evidence, but are you sure?”

Ieng Mouly, head of the Global Fund’s Country Coordinating Committee, said he had not been informed of the status of the ACU investigation. As for the fate of Mr. Socheat, Mr. Mouly declined to speculate on whether legal action would eventually be taken.

“What I learned is [Mr. Socheat] has dispensed money to pay back the money,” Mr. Mouly said. “But whether there will be charges, I don’t know. That is up to the ACU.”

(Additional reporting by Colin Meyn)

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