Government Official Convicted in Corruption Case

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.

Lay Tharoat, an official at the Council for the Development of Cambodia, is escorted into the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Lay Tharoat, an official at the Council for the Development of Cambodia, is escorted into the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

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.

[email protected]

Related Stories

Latest News

The Weekly DispatchA weekly newsletter from The Cambodia Daily delivering news, analysis and opinion to your inbox. Published every Friday at 11:30am. Sign up today.