A Foreign Affairs Ministry official arrested by anti-corruption authorities last week for taking bribes to process documents for a foreign company has been charged with embezzlement and sent to prison to await trial, officials said on Monday.
Ea Se, a bureau chief in the ministry department that oversees Cambodia’s relations with Australia and New Zealand, was apprehended at the ministry by the government’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) on Thursday morning.
Ly Sophanna, a deputy prosecutor at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said Mr. Se was questioned at the court over the weekend and provisionally charged with misappropriation of public funds, but refused to say more.
“Please ask the judge instead, because I have sent this case to the investigating judge,” he said, before hanging up on a reporter.
ACU Chairman Om Yentieng said the provisional charge was confirmed on Sunday by an investigating judge, who subsequently sent Mr. Se to Prey Sar prison.
Pressed for specifics about Mr. Se’s alleged crimes, Mr. Yentieng said, “Why do you still need to know more about him?” and declined to comment further.
Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said the ACU was keeping details of the case under wraps, including how Mr. Se had acquired the dirty money, and from which firm. “I’m not sure; it is a secret,” he said.
Asked to explain the secrecy—which contrasts with the ACU’s openness about its probe into accusations that CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha purchased property for mistresses—Mr. Siphan said the cases were completely different.
“They have a number of complaints against Kem Sokha,” he said. “This one [Mr. Se’s case] is under investigation. It is just suspicion only.”
However, an internal Foreign Affairs Ministry memo obtained on Friday said otherwise.
“There is clear evidence of taking money from a foreign company for stamping documents,” it read.
(Additional reporting by Sonia Kohlbacher)