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)