Telecom Official Arrested for Alleged Fraud

An official with the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications has been arrested for allegedly tapping into corporate phone lines and selling international phone calls for far below market rate.

Telecom engineer Kry Chun Lay was arrested last Friday and is now in prison, Lek Vannak, Phnom Penh’s judicial police chief, said Wednesday. “We’ve got enough evidence to keep him in jail.”

According to ministry secretary of state Lar Narath, the suspect illegally connected to the phone line of a Phnom Penh tourism company.

The ministry suspects other companies may have also had their phone lines tapped and continues to investigate, Lar Narath said.

“I expect people are still practicing this illegal activity and we expect to find them soon,” he said Wednesday.

Though ministry officials say tens of thousands of dollars may have been lost in the alleged fraud, no exact figure has been compiled by the ministry’s financial department, Lar Narath said.

“It’s very embarrassing be­cause this kind of thing does not even happen in our neighboring countries,” said Chhay Sokha, the ministry’s deputy planning and finance director.

Victims of the fraud have been requested to send their telephone bills to Telecom­munic­ations Minister So Khun, and are unlikely to have to pay for the illegal line use. The ministry has also promised to issue pin numbers to subscribers to protect them against future fraud.

Kry Chun Lay is the second Telecommunications Ministry official to be arrested this month for allegedly stealing phone lines. In mid-May Seam Bunthy, a ministry deputy director, was arrested for illegally setting up a satellite system at a Phnom Penh hotel and bypassing the government-owned gateway for international calls with 18 phone lines.

Last week ministry officials asked the Interior and Finance ministries to better monitor the import of telecommunications equipment into the country. Lar Narath said that, in general, television and radio equipment has to be licensed by the state.

So Khun explained that at least 20 private companies have been authorized by the ministry to use satellites for a closed phone system that allows for international phone calls to corporate offices elsewhere. These systems cannot be tapped into, So Khun said. Subscribers pay the ministry a monthly fee based on their contract with the ministry.


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