Officials at Electricite du Cambodge claimed no wrongdoing Wednesday following allegations by police and Governor Chea Sophara that staff at the state-run utility colluded in the theft of electricity worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Soun Chhuob, director of administration and personnel for Electricite du Cambodge, and Kheang Khun, deputy chief of distribution, denied any connections between EdC staff and three members of the Chea Rithy Import Export Co arrested last weekend for operating a scam to steal state electricity.
“I was very disappointed when I heard people say that EdC officials are stealing power or cooperating with the private sector to steal power. But, I am sure…that only private people steal state power,” said Soun Chhuob.
Governor of Phnom Penh Chea Sophara said Wednesday that a municipal investigation committee has already found evidence that could connect a number of EdC staff to the operation.
“I am very happy if [EdC staff are not corrupt] but if they are, they are in my hands,” he said.
According to Chea Sophara, the racket was stealing, and then reselling, at least $20,000 worth of state electricity each month.
Soun Chhuob, criticized the police operation which uncovered the power stealing scam, asserting that the police undertook the operation without following EdC investigation procedures.
“I think it is not right to do like that….If police want to arrest someone, police must go through EdC officials,” he said.
Chea Rithy, the company owner suspected of unscrupulously selling electrical power, was arrested with two other firm members for stealing state electricity and selling it to hotels, businesses and private residents Lek Vannak, deputy municipal police chief, said Wednesday.
Four technicians from the firm have been also detained for questioning, said Lek Vannak.
A staff member at the Chea Rithy Import Export Co said Wednesday the company sells private electricity from their own generators throughout Phnom Penh, but the operation has been shut for the past five days.
Chea Sophara and Lek Vannak said Tuesday that four EdC staffers also were under investigation and could be arrested shortly.
But Kheang Khun, overseeing EdC power distribution to Phnom Penh, said checks and balances in the system now prevented EdC staff from stealing electricity from the main grid.
“It can not be like that, because the working system in now quite strong in EdC,” Kheang Khun claimed.
Clot Randy, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy and a members of EdC’s board of directors, said Wednesday he was unaware of problems at EdC.