The World Bank said Thursday that it is consulting with a lawyer over World Bank Country Manager Nisha Agrawal’s summons to testify in the court investigation of Mour Kimsan, the government official arrested in the multimillion dollar World Bank funding scandal.
“The Bank supports efforts to investigate irregularities with respect to projects it is financing and is now seeking the advice of its legal counsel regarding staff obligations with respect to court proceedings,” the World Bank said in an e-mailed statement.
On Tuesday, defense and government lawyers in the embezzlement case against Mour Kimsan revealed that Agrawal had been called to the court but had not appeared at the scheduled hearing.
“The letter from Phnom Penh Municipal Court inviting Ms Agrawal to attend the hearing on Tuesday, Sept 5, was received at the World Bank office in Phnom Penh on Monday, Sept 4,” the World Bank said. The Bank added that Agrawal was out of the country at the time.
“It was by no means the Bank’s intention to disregard the letter or the judicial inquiry which resulted from the Bank’s own investigation,” the Bank added.
World Bank spokesman Bou Saroeun said that he could not say whether or not Agrawal’s position enjoys diplomatic immunity.
“I cannot answer that until I have clearance from a lawyer in Washington,” he said.
Article 31 of the Vienna Convention, which governs diplomatic relations, states that “a diplomatic agent is not obliged to give evidence as a witness.”
Municipal Court Investigating Judge Chiv Keng could not be contacted for comment Thursday.
Rural development project director Mour Kimsan is accused of embezzling more than $800,000 from the World Bank’s Provincial and Rural Infrastructure Project.
The Bank announced in June that it had discovered evidence of corruption in the awarding of 43 contracts in projects overseen by six ministries. The Bank and government are still discussing how much needs to be repaid to the Bank.
(Additional reporting by Phann Ana)