A high-ranking official at the Ministry of Water Resources, who was allegedly the target of a foiled assassination attempt, is now fending off charges that she pocketed almost $10,000 in bribes for access to a fishing lot.
Secretary of State Chea Rotha denies the charges and says documents submitted to the court, detailing the exchange of money for the lot in Kandal province, were forged.
She also says that the charges are an attempt to capitalize on publicity stemming from the arrest of two men earlier this month, Tang Sopheap and Hang Sokun, who stand accused of plotting her killing.
“They have created this whole story to defame my reputation, and all these documents…bare a false signature,” Chea Rotha said.
Businessman Chen Thoeum filed a suit against Chea Rotha and two men in Kandal provincial court, alleging that the trio accepted $27,400 in payments from him since 1999 to procure a fishing lot in Kandal’s Muk Kampul district.
Though the court issued an arrest warrant, no formal charges have been brought against Chea Rotha, who is protected by the immunity afforded by her government position, said Reach Sokhon, Deputy municipal police Chief of Phnom Penh.
The court, however, is willing to drop the case if Chea Rotha agrees to pay $9,500—the amount she is accused of taking— said Chea Bunleng, a clerk at Kandal Provincial Court.
Chea Rotha said she knows the two people mentioned in the warrant—Bun Chantha and Nheim Sao—but that they have no business relationship. She also said she does not know the lawyer claiming to represent her in documents submitted to the court, and that her signature was forged.
Police have not disclosed a motive for the alleged assassination attempt, but say it is not related to the case filed in Kandal.