The Anti-Corruption Unit wants the Kandal provincial department of agriculture to look into two restaurants in Takhmao town for allegedly selling wildlife meat illegally.
A letter from the ACU said the two restaurants, Heng Heng Restaurant and Rumchang Restaurant, were popular for selling wildlife meat, leading to people assuming there was bribery going on between authorities and the restaurants.
The ACU asked department director Buntoun Simona to look into the matter, as such activities fall under the purview of the provincial department of agriculture.
Mr Simona said he got the ACU letter and has already assigned an officer to investigate.
“We have received the letter from the ACU and I have assigned a Kandal provincial forestry administration chief to manage this and ordered him to go and check and report back to me. I will forward the report to the ACU and the provincial governor,” he said.
Mr Simona confirmed there were two restaurants, adding that these two restaurants have been operating for a long time.
“But since they sold the wildlife meat, we need to wait for the examination by the forestry administration chief,” he said.
Nhem Dararith, provincial forestry administration chief, could not be reached for comment.
A Heng Heng Restaurant representative, who declined to be named, denied that his restaurant sold wildlife meat and said the allegation might stem from nearby restaurants jealous of his good business.
“Actually, my place does not sell it. I don’t know why there is such an allegation. Maybe some people see my restaurant crowded with customers and they are jealous. My restaurant has been operating for just two years,” he said.
“There are restaurants near mine which are not doing so well, so they might be jealous of us, I am not sure,” he added.
A Rumchang Restaurant representative could not be reached for comment. However, this restaurant was raided and fined in 2015 by the provincial military police and a court prosecutor.
The military police at the time reported the presence of five live turtles, six cooked turtles and over three kilograms of various types of snakes.