World Bank Country Manager Nisha Agrawal will not testify at Phnom Penh Municipal Court in the case against the government official arrested in the multimillion-dollar World Bank funding scandal, the Bank announced late Tuesday.
Investigating Judge and Court Director Chiv Keng issued a summons Sept 4 for Agrawal to testify the next day in the investigation into Mour Kimsan, the Rural Development Ministry project manager charged with embezzling more than $800,000 from Bank-funded projects. Agrawal was outside Cambodia at the time and did not attend.
“On the advice of the Bank’s legal counsel, Ms Agrawal will not testify at the hearing because the summons (as well as other legal proceedings) is inapplicable to her and other Bank representatives,” World Bank spokesman Bou Saroeun said in a statement.
Agrawal and other employees in the local World Bank office have diplomatic immunity and cannot be compelled to testify, the statement said. Cambodia consented to this in the agreement establishing the branch office of the Bank signed in September 1995, the statement added.
“These immunities safeguard the Bank’s independence as an international public organization,” the statement reads. “The Bank remains supportive of the Prime Minister’s decision that the government carry out a thorough and credible investigation.”
Thuy Sokun, the lawyer for Mour Kimsan, claimed the Bank’s refusal to testify shows there is no evidence against his client. “I knew that the World Bank had only verbally shouted without any evidence to prove the allegation,” he said.
Chiv Keng could not be reached for comment.
In June, the Bank informed the government that it had found evidence of corruption in the awarding of 43 contracts across six ministries. Mour Kimsan, a Funcinpec official, was arrested in July.