Gov’t Promotes Telecom Chief Tied to Corruption Investigation

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.

 

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