Minister Denies Taking Salary From Mobitel

Minister of Posts and Telecom­munication So Khun on Monday denied ever receiving a $2,500 monthly salary from Mobitel, de­spite his 2001 admission to receiving the money.

“Why would I take that mo­ney?” he said by telephone. “My ministry makes millions.”

Five newly elected Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers—Sok Pheng, Chrea Sochenda, Ngor Sovann, Chea Poch and Nuth Rumduol—filed a lawsuit against So Khun and the director of Mobitel on March 1, accusing So Khun of acting against the interest of his ministerial post by serving as the mobile phone company’s adviser for $2,500 a month.

When contacted Monday, So Khun first said that he gave up his role as adviser to Mobitel years ago when he became a minister.

“I cannot be a minister and advise [Mobitel],” he said. After further questioning he added, “I am the adviser to everyone be­cause I am minister.”

When pressed further, he ad­mitted that he worked as an ad­viser for Mobitel, but was never given a salary. The only money he ever received was to pay for transportation and meals during Mobitel meetings, he said.

But in 2001 So Khun told members of the National Assembly that he received a $2,500 monthly salary from Mobitel to act as the company’s honorary adviser.

“It is my right,” he said at the time. “All work has to be paid for. As part of the ministry, I am not biased toward Mobitel.”

On Monday, So Khun said that everyone was confused and that the conflict in 2001 was caused be­cause he was receiving money for his travel expenses. But he no lon­ger receives this money, he said.

He said the lawsuit launched last week was “no problem.”

“I don’t want revenge—let them file the lawsuit,” he said.

Mobitel Chairman Kith Meng said last week that he had no knowledge of the lawsuit or whe­ther So Khun was an adviser to the company, despite having confirmed in 2001 that the minister was an adviser to the company. He declined to comment Monday.

“This case is like a ghost that has been cremated, but they try to make it up,” So Khun said Mon­day. “Everything was over. If I ever took that money, I would not be minister right now.”

(Addi­tional reporting by Dhyana Levey)

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