Traffic Police Accuse Boss Of Corruption

Employees of the National Police’s public order department, which oversees the country’s traffic officers, have accused their boss of embezzlement, favoritism, abuse of power and other offenses, according to the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU).

The ACU summarized the anonymous complaints against Lieutenant General Run Rathveasna, the public order department’s director, as well as his point-by-point denials in a post uploaded to its website. The unit regularly publishes such accusations and accompanying denials, and it remained unclear on Tuesday whether the claims against Lt. Gen. Rathveasna were being investigated.

According to the ACU, employees accused the department chief of pocketing state revenue from various sources, including their designated share of traffic fines collected from motorists.

“The complainants accuse Mr. Rathveasna of keeping for his own interest about 3 million riel [about $750] per month from the National Police Commissariat as well as 10 percent of the reward collected from traffic fines in Phnom Penh and provinces across the country,” its post said.

Lt. Gen. Rathveasna’s subordinates also accused him of siphoning off overtime pay owed to more than 100 traffic police officers who worked over last year’s Khmer New Year holiday and of attempting to sell off one of the department’s Mazda pickup trucks for $32,000 for his own benefit, the ACU said.

They reportedly accused him, too, of placing his cronies in charge of the department’s traffic police teams and issuing orders without having the administration office sign off on them first, as required.

The ACU post did not outline what evidence the accusers had to back up their claims, and neither ACU Chairman Om Yentieng nor Vice Chairman Chhay Savuth could be reached on Tuesday. A spokesman for the National Police was also unavailable.

The post did, however, include a summary of Lt. Gen. Rathveasna’s denials.

It said the director claimed he followed all of the necessary administrative rules, denied having any relatives under his command and insisted that the money he was accused of embezzling—from the commissariat and from traffic fines—was all being put back into the department’s operating budget.

He told the ACU that some traffic police had not yet received their New Year overtime pay because they had not filled out the necessary paperwork. He denied trying to sell off a department truck.

Contacted by telephone, Lt. Gen. Rathveasna professed his innocence but declined to elaborate on what he had told the ACU.

“I do not wish to comment further because I have already explained myself to the ACU,” he said. “I just want to say that the accusations from my subordinates are not true; that’s why the ACU published my explanations.”

Echoing the anonymous complaint, however, Interior Minister Sar Kheng said in May that traffic police were not receiving their promised share of traffic fines and threatened unnamed police officials with demotion unless they rectified the problem in short order.

“Up to now they have not gotten it yet, so where did it go?” he said at the time. “This is what we call injustice. They do not get it even though they worked hard under the scorching sun.”

Late last year, the government said traffic police would get to keep 70 percent of traffic fines they levied on motorists—up from 50 percent before—as part of a new traffic law that took effect in January.

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