An official at the Council for the Development of Cambodia accused of soliciting bribes from a Dutch sportswear factory was convicted of misappropriation of public funds on Friday and sentenced to two years in prison.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Y Thavrak suspended one year of the sentence handed down to 34-year-old Lay Tharoat, deputy director of the council’s planning and analysis bureau, and fined him 6 million riel, or about $1,500.
Mr. Tharoat, who was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Unit on May 6, did not answer questions from reporters while being escorted from the courtroom by prison guards.
His lawyer, Keo Vanny, said the penalty was appropriate for the crime, which carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.
“It is suitable because my client confessed to committing the crime,” he said. “I’m not sure yet whether my client is satisfied with this decision, so I will speak to him about whether he will appeal.”
At his trial on Monday, Mr. Tharoat confessed to asking for bribes from a representative of the Raytecs factory in Phnom Penh in order to process import applications, but said he did not believe at the time that he was committing a crime.
Authorities said the representative had submitted documents requesting permission to import a variety of items for production but was repeatedly told by Mr. Tharoat that the forms had been filled in incorrectly. They said he accepted $500 on April 22 to help with the forms and another $400 on May 6, the day he was arrested.
Also during the trial, another lawyer for Mr. Tharoat, Teng Rithivoan, pleaded with the court for leniency on the basis of her client’s previously clean criminal record and allegiance to the ruling CPP.
“First, this was his first time,” she said at the time. “Second, he has been a civil servant for more than 12 years, and he has served the party and society a lot.”
Why no action has been taken against the Raytecs factory for paying bribes remains unclear. Anti-Corruption Unit Chairman Om Yentieng could not be reached on Friday.
Reached by telephone, a factory employee who refused to identify himself said he knew nothing about the case.