Customs Director Transferred Over Smuggled Gas

The customs director of the Phnom Penh port has been transferred from his position after officials discovered a 200-ton shipment of smuggled gasoline at the Tonle Sap river port on May 15, officials said Thursday.

The port’s Customs Director So­am Vutha has been transferred, said Em Sitha, deputy director of in­vestigation at the Finance Min­istry’s Customs and Excise De­partment.

“[Soam Vutha] has not been fired yet, he is being questioned,” Em Sitha said on Thursday. “This is the first large-scale smuggling case in 2006,” he said.

The gasoline was smuggled from Vietnam and would have cost the government $75,000 in lost taxes, he said.

Hei Bavy, director-general of the port, said that the boat on which the fuel was found belonged to the Fortune 8 shipping company, a joint venture between investors from Hong Kong, Shanghai and Taiwan.

Its boat was officially taking construction materials from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh and was to return with garments bound for Israel, Hei Bavy said.

The company may face fines from the customs department, said Hei Bavy, adding that the company will be investigated to verify its credentials.

Kin Ly assumed duties as the port’s new acting director on Thurs­day.



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