Lawmakers Sue Mobitel, CPP Minister

A group of opposition party lawmakers filed a lawsuit against CPP Minister of Posts and Tele­communication So Khun and the director of Mobitel on Monday, alleging they were involved in corruption and bribery.

The lawsuit was filed in Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said Ouk Savuth, the court’s chief prosecutor, who confirmed he received the complaint on Monday.

A court document, signed by five newly-elected Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians, alleged that So Khun had been receiving bribes from Mobitel and was acting as a paid adviser to the country’s leading mobile phone company—which they charged, was a direct conflict of interest to his ministerial post.

So Khun has allegedly been receiving $2,500 per month from Mobitel, according to the statement, signed by lawmakers Sok Pheng, Chrea Sochenda, Ngor Sovann, Chea Poch and Nuth Rumduol.

The document mentioned only “the director of Mobitel” and “the Mobitel Company management,” but did not name company officials involved in the alleged scam.

“The reason we filed a lawsuit against our Telecoms Minister and Mobitel management over the grounds of bribery is because they have been violating the law,” Sok Pheng said by telephone on Monday.

“If the court has true independence, I hope they can look to this lawsuit and then make a fair ruling,” he said.

According to the document, So Khun “has authority and has the position to manage the whole telephone system in Cambodia, but he is taking money from one company, which is in competition with other telephone companies.”

“This act is a violation of the Untac penal code,” it said.

Under the Untac code, violation of Article 38 on corruption carries a punishment of three to seven years in prison. Punishment for bribery, under Article 58, is between one to three years in prison.

So Khun could not be reached for comment because he was out of the country, according to his son, Rithy Khun.

Reached by phone Monday evening, Mobitel Chairman Kith Meng said he had not received notice of the lawsuit and did not know whether So Khun was an adviser to his company.

“I don’t know anything about this at all,” Kith Meng said.

In March 2001, Kith Meng confirmed So Khun was an adviser to the telecommunications industry, but downplayed his role in Mobitel, Cambodia’s dominant telecommunications company.

“So Khun is an adviser, but I do all the work,” Kith Meng had said.

So Khun also acknowledged at that time that he received a $2,500 monthly salary from Mobitel as an honorary adviser to the company after he was questioned by the National Assembly’s Commission on Telecommunications.

But, he denied it conflicted with his work as minister.

Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Son Chhay, who had blasted So Khun for receiving the payments, was later removed from his position as chairman of the Assembly’s telecommunications commission, while So Khun kept his ministerial post.

Sok Pheng said on Monday that So Khun had already acknowledged the payments, and there was “no need [for the court] to investigate this because Minister Sok Khun has admitted he accepts money from Mobitel.”

Court prosecutor Ouk Savuth said he was examining the case.

 

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