Official Denies Allegations of Embezzlement

The former director of the Preah Vihear provincial financial department has denied allegations that he embezzled an estimated $72,045 over the course of 2013, according to his defense posted on the Anti-Corruption Unit website Thursday.

Meas Rathavuth, who was ordered into retirement on March 1, said that a complaint had been filed against him with the ACU in mid-March claiming he had demanded between one and three percent in kickbacks from each company that the province procured its supplies from.

In his statement, Mr. Rathavuth says the complaint was likely filed by vengeful staff following a crackdown on corruption.

“The complaint made against me after my retirement is a result of my prevention to stop irregularity activities of a number of officials within the department and other related department as well as a number of superiors,” he said.

“I would like to stress again …that the price of procurement for products, and all kinds of construction materials that were granted contracts in the 2013, were carried out correctly in accordance with the Law on Public Procurement and the process was implemented correctly without staging any fake documents.”

By phone Thursday, Mr. Rathavuth said that he was “innocent” and he had asked the ACU to send a group to investigate the claims made against him.

“I will be very cooperative with Anti-Corruption Unit because I am eager to see the ACU send an independent team to conduct field investigation to prove transparency and accuracy,” he said.

Lor Chan, provincial coordinator for Adhoc, said the rights group had received a number of verbal complaints from locals and businessmen accusing the former finance director of corruption and extortion.

“So, I think ACU will send inspection officials to conduct thorough investigation into the corruption allegation because the alleged corruption occured under his mandate,” he said.

Neither ACU chairman Om Yentieng nor his deputy Chhay Savuth could be reached Thursday.

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