Lawmaker Asks Bank for Release of Evidence

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Yim Sovann on Friday wrote to the World Bank formally asking for the release of evidence that led to three Bank-funded projects worth $64.5 million being frozen, so the National Assembly’s commission on investigation and anti-corruption, which he heads, can investigate the scandal.

In a copy of the letter to World Bank Country Manager Nisha Agrawal, Yim Sovann said that the commission must have related documents on each of the three frozen projects as well as four others in which the Bank has identified problems.

“I wish to take this opportunity to inform you that it is within the mandate of all Parliamentary Commissions to question concerned members of the Royal Government as well to prepare reports to the head of the government for actions to be taken,” Yim Sovann wrote.

Finance Minister Keat Chhon declined to discuss the World Bank affair with reporters outside the weekly Council of Ministers meeting Friday morning.

“I don’t want to comment. Please wait and see,” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen walked away from reporters without addressing them.

Kimberly Versak, World Bank external affairs officer, wrote in an e-mail that as the investigation is continuing, the Bank is constrain­ed in what information it can give out. “We do believe, however, that it is important that due process be followed, and we will release more information about these cases when we can,” she wrote.

Under pressure from the Bank, Keat Chhon froze the accounts of three projects on May 22: the Ministry of Land Management’s $24.3 million land management and administration project, the ministries of rural development and transportation’s $20 million rural infrastructure project and the Ministry of Industry’s $19.9 million provincial and peri-urban water and sanitation project.

Mour Kimsan, the director of the project at the Ministry of Rural Development, said he was removed from his position in a sub-decree signed by Hun Sen on Tuesday, but denied this was related to the scandal. (Additional reporting by Erik Was­son)

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