Draft: Officials Must Declare Assets or Face Prison

According to a provisional draft of the long awaited anti-corruption law obtained Thursday, anybody who refuses to declare his personal as­­sets will be liable to a prison sentence of two to five years once the law is passed.

Government officials found to have taken bribes will face prison sentences of between one month and 15 years, according to the draft, dated May 18.

Judges found to have taken bribes must be punished with be­tween seven and 15 years in jail, and both they and other government officials will have to pay fines equivalent to twice the bribe mo­ney they are found to have taken, ac­cording to the draft.

Corrupt judges “must be punished in prison between seven and 15 years and pay double their bribery money,” the draft reads. “Corrupt acts are a crime that must re­ceive punishment in accordance with the law.”

Observers cautioned Thursday that the draft, which is over a month old, may already have been changed and may well be altered again before it is officially made pub­lic.

“It’s not the final one,” said Sok Sam Oe­un, executive director of the Cam­bodia Defenders Project, ad­ding that it is currently under con­­sideration by the Ministry of Na­­tional Assembly and Senate Re­lations and Inspection.

According to the draft, those re­fusing to declare their assets will face fines of between $2,500 and $25,000, as well as prison, and will be fired from their public positions.

If property gained through corruption is found kept in another country, the state must take measures to demand that it is returned to Cambodia, based on international cooperation, the draft reads.

Members of the private sector found to be involved in corruption will also face from one month to fifteen years in jail.

A draft will likely be available for of­ficial public consultation in Au­gust, the NGO Pact Cambodia said.  The business community will likely view the draft as a first step toward tackling graft, Tim Smyth, In­dochina Research managing di­rector, said Thursday.

But “not a lot of people are going to be dancing in the street,” because it’s still a long way from implementation, he added.

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said there are already provisional Untac laws that could be used to tackle bribery and the sale of state land.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith declined comment on Thursday, and Om Yentieng, ad­viser to Prime Minister Hun Sen, said he was too busy to comment.

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