Finance Official Accused of Forcing Bribes From Casinos

A top official in the Ministry of Finance has been suspended over allegations that he forced the owners of two Poipet casinos to pay thousands of dollars in bribes.

Ky Van Deth, who led a special group created to collect casino taxes, allegedly demanded that the casino owners in Banteay Meanchey province pay him $15,000 to $20,000. He allegedly told the owners that if they refused his demands, he would raise their taxes. But if they complied, he would lower their tax bills.

Ky Van Deth was unavailable for comment.

Ngy Tayi, undersecretary of state for the Finance Ministry, confirmed that Ky Van Deth was removed from his post last Tuesday by Keat Chhon, Minister of Finance. Ky Van Deth still has a job at the Finance Ministry, however, drawing a salary and working in a lower-level job with limited responsibilities.

A preliminary investigation suggests Ky Van Deth may have been motivated to ask for the bribes because of gambling debts, according to a Finance Ministry Inspection Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Ministry officials learned of the bribes when casino owners came to Phnom Penh and complained to the ministry’s top officials about Ky Van Deth, saying he was not properly monitored.

This is the second demotion because of corruption allegations for Ky Van Deth. He was accused of corruption in 1999, when he was deputy director of the state budget department.

The details of that allegation were not known, but he was suspended from that post, again with pay, until his most recent assignment, in which he was appointed to lead the working group of special income for the Finance Ministry. The group collects casino taxes.


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