Cambodia Anti-Graft Unit Launches Probe of Top Police Official, Winds Down Inquiry Into Another

cambodia-om-yentieng-july-2018.jpg Om Yentieng (R), president of the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), takes part in a ruling party campaign event ahead of Cambodia's general election, July 27, 2018.
AP Photo

Cambodia’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) has kicked off an investigation into the assets of one top-ranking police official in Kandal province as it winds down an inquiry into those of another in Mondolkiri, drawing praise Thursday from graft watchdogs who urged the government to probe further cases.

ACU chief Om Yentieng said Wednesday that the unit had launched an investigation into Kandal province deputy police commissioner Sreng Sokha after Facebook users questioned how he could afford gifts of U.S. $100,000 and a new car for his fiancé at a recent engagement event when he earns an official salary of around U.S. $500 per month.

Om Yentieng also announced that the ACU will complete a corruption investigation of former Ratanakkiri provincial military police chief Kim Reaksmey in coming days, noting similarities between his case and that of Sreng Sokha.

The ACU had launched a probe into Kim Reaksmey after the military police chief announced in a video clip posted to Facebook that he was giving U.S. $100,000 to each of his five children during a birthday party for one of his grandchildren.

After the video was posted, a number of photos surfaced on Facebook purportedly showing Kim Reaksmey’s home built from luxury timber, accompanied by comments questioning whether he had benefited financially from forestry crimes in Ratanakkiri.

King Norodom Sihamoni issued a royal decree firing Kim Reaksmey earlier this month.

Sreng Sokha confirmed to RFA’s Khmer Service Thursday that he had received a letter from the ACU requiring him to attend a hearing and provide testimony on March 4.

Morm Sitha, president of Cambodia’s Independent Commission Against Corruption, on Thursday welcomed the government’s investigation into the two corruption cases, but stressed that there are “many more” cases of high ranking officials that require action.

She said the ACU should be more proactive in investigating other cases, without waiting for complaints from the public or civil society.

“We want this kind of action to be taken more broadly and not just target individuals or small groups of people,” she said.

“If there is any information about corruption, the ACU should look into it. We cannot accept action taken according to double standards—it has to be equally applied to everyone.”

At the time of King Norodom Sihamoni’s royal decree, Om Yentieng said that whistleblowers provided the ACU with information regarding suspected irregularities while Kim Reaksmey was acting Ratanakkiri military police chief, and that the unit had already been investigating him before the video posted on Facebook went viral.

Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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