Development Council Officer Charged Over Bribery Claim

An official at the Council for the Development of Cambodia was charged with bribery over the weekend after being arrested by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), just weeks after the graft-fighting body arrested a Foreign Affairs Ministry official and the ambassador to South Korea.

Lay Tharoat, 33, was sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Saturday and charged by Investigating Judge Yin Saroeun before being placed in provisional detention, court spokesman Ly Sophanna said on Sunday.

ACU Chairman Om Yentieng said Mr. Tharoat was arrested on Friday, moments after soliciting and receiving the bribe.

“We arrested Mr. Tharoat while he was receiving $1,000 from the company at his office on Friday,” he said, adding that he did not know the name of the company nor the position of Mr. Tharoat.

Mr. Yentieng said the firm had paid the $1,000 tax it rightfully owed for equipment it was importing to Cambodia but that Mr. Tharoat had then demanded an additional $1,000 to produce an another tax-related form. The chairman did not rule out more arrests in connection with the case.

“It’s too early to say, but we are still investigating the case,” he said.

In a similar but unrelated case, the ACU arrested a bureau chief at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in March for allegedly taking a bribe to process paperwork for a foreign firm.

In another case filed by the ACU in April, the Siem Reap Provincial Court charged a deputy division director at the Fisheries Administration with the misappropriation of public funds for allegedly extorting local fisherman to the tune of $365,000 over four years.

Also last month, on the back of yet another ACU investigation, the Phnom Penh court charged Cambodia’s ambassador to South Korea, Suth Dina, with exploitation and abuse of power over millions of dollars he allegedly accrued by various means, including pocketing visa fees and taking compensation paid to deceased migrant workers.

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