The government has removed the head of the state-owned telecommunications firm Telecom Cambodia, Post and Telecommunications Minister So Khun said Monday.
Prime Minister Hun Sen had signed a sub-decree ahead of the Khmer New Year ending Nhek Korsal Vythyea’s three-year term as director-general of Telecom Cambodia, So Khun said by telephone.
Friday was Nhek Korsal Vythyea’s last day as director-general, a post he took up in 2006, and he is being transferred to a new, more senior post at the ministry, So Khun said.
“We promoted his position,” So Khun said, though he was not sure what post Nhek Korsal Vythyea, who is being investigated over alleged links to a company operating an illegal international telephone gateway, would receive.
Nhek Korsal Vythyea and several other people were detained briefly in June at the headquarters of Pacific Communications Pte Co Ltd, a small company in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district. The company, which was allegedly operating an illegal gateway for international calls made from Cambodia, was reportedly registered under the name of Nhek Korsal Vythyea’s wife and was operating out of the former director-general’s old home.
So Khun said Nhek Korsal Vythyea’s removal had nothing to do with the ongoing investigation into Pacific Communications Pte Co. “The investigation will just continue, and this is the position ending,” So Khun said, adding that Telecom Cambodia Deputy Director-General Lao Saroeun has already been promoted to director-general.
Contacted by telephone Monday, Nhek Korsal Vythyea denied involvement in the gateway and blamed his removal on baseless accusations pushed by rivals within the Telecommunications Ministry.
He said that under his stewardship, Telecom Cambodia has more than tripled its annual revenue intake from $10 million to more than $33 million last year.
“This is an injustice,” Nhek Korsal Vythyea said. “If I did these stupid deeds, then there wouldn’t have been the increase in revenue.”
Cheim Sangva, director of the Telecommunications Ministry’s Inspection Department, which filed the lawsuit against Nhek Korsal Vythyea over the private phone gateway, said internal rivalries were not to blame for his removal.
If the former director-general had done a blameless job, his three-year term would have been extended, Cheim Sangva said.
SRP lawmaker Yim Sovann, who chairs the National Assembly commission on investigation and anti-corruption, said Nhek Korsal Vythyea’s removal alone was insufficient given the ongoing investigation of the illegal phone gateway.
Yim Sovann said Untac-era anti-corruption legislation, which includes a provision for seizure of assets, should be employed to recover the millions of dollars allegedly lost to the illegal gateway.
So Khun said the investigation of Nhek Korsal Vythyea’s activities has not reached courts and that a decision on whether legal proceedings would be pursued rests with the Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspections, which is handling the case.
Men Sam An, minister of National Assembly-Senate Relations, confirmed that her ministry is investigating the matter but declined to comment further.