Ministry Identifies Employee Accused of Extorting Couples

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reportedly found the employee re­sponsible for extorting hundreds of dollars from Cambodian and foreign couples wishing to marry and plans on punishing the man, the spokes­man for the ministry said Friday.

Spokesman Kuy Kuong said the government identified Pann Van­thorn as the offender when he was quoted in a newspaper ar­ticle saying employees at the ministry received monetary tips after pro­cessing marriage applications for couples. Mr Kuong said the man worked as a security guard at the ministry’s compound and may lose his job because of his all­eged wrong­doing.

“This guy has been seriously warn­ed. The ministry might sack him,” he said.

When reached by telephone Sun­day, Pann Vanthorn, who has con­firm­­ed he works at the For­eign Af­fairs Ministry but has not publ­icly dis­closed his position, de­clined to comment.

Last week it was revealed that a Western man and a Cambodian wo­m­an were asked to pay $550 to have the Foreign Ministry staff pro­cess their documents despite the fact no such fee existed. Another Western man, already married to a Cambo­dian wo­man, said he paid $800 for his marriage license about a year and a half ago and has heard similar stories of ex­tortion among friends. Neither coup­le could be con­tacted Sunday.

In order for a foreigner to mar­ry a Cambodian, they must complete an application with the ministry, which will forward it to the Interior Ministry before it is sent to local authorities for final processing.

Mr Kuong on Sunday once again called on any other victims of corruption to come forward and re­v­eal the names of those officials who ask­ed for money to process the ap­plic­ations for marriage licenses.

“We need them to keep telling us the names of the people who commit ex­tortion, and they can tell us right away at the department after they are being asked for money,” he said.

He also said he was disappointed some applicants allow other individuals to handle their documents rather than filling out and filing the papers themselves at the ministry.

“Please come to the department directly [on your own], so you can’t be dismayed or extorted,” he added.

(Additional reporting by Frank Radosevich)


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