Three officials removed from committee following graft allegations

Three committee officials were removed from rural development projects in Ratanakkiri province amid allegations of document forgery and financial irregularities, according to a handwritten letter obtained yesterday.

Nap Bun Heng, chief of provincial government administration, confirmed yesterday that provincial governor Pav Horm Phan, who is chairman government’s Executive Committee of Provincial Rural Development, removed the three men: Sek Hay, a permanent member of the ECPRD; Phan Samneng, provincial committee coordinator, and Choeun Rith, district coordinator.

The men were removed from their posts following the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development’s investigation into “irregular activities,” the undated letter stated. The document did not, however, specify what the projects were geared toward or how the removals would affect them.

“These men were forced to quit these projects to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness in implementing the projects to improve rural development,” Mr Bun Heng said yesterday, adding that some projects focused on improving the work of government officials.

He added that Mr Hay and Mr Samneng remain provincial civil servants, while Mr Rith remains a civil servant within the Ministry of Land Management.

The officials’ removal was announced Sept 16.

Mr Bun Heng declined to elaborate on the allegations against the three men in the letter, which included forging documents and “incorrect calculations” of project costs.

“The preparation of procurement and expenditure documents are incorrect with forgery of fingerprints,” the letter stated.

The letter went on to say that a large amount of money was lost due to “collusion and the improper implementation of procurement processes without transparency.”

Contacted yesterday, Mr Hay said he had done nothing wrong before hanging up the phone.

Mr Horm Phan, the provincial governor, could not be reached.

The removal of the three men was hailed by rights group Adhoc. Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for Adhoc, called the removal a “remarkable reform” by the government. He added that he hoped other officials involved would not only be removed from their positions but prosecuted.


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