Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday charged Liem Bunroeun, Pursat provincial land management department director, and two of his subordinates who were arrested for allegedly seeking bribes to approve a construction project.
Kuch Kimlong, court spokesman, said Mr Bunroeun, his deputy Cheang Vuthy and Te Buntheng, a department official, had been slapped with three charges. All three have since been placed in pre-trial detention.
“After questioning them, the prosecutor charged them with misappropriation of public funds, abuse of power and money laundering,” he said.
Mr Bunroeun, Mr Vuthy, and Mr Buntheng were arrested on Saturday in Pursat city’s Phteah Prey commune by Anti-Corruption Unit officials led by its chairman Om Yentieng.
Mr Yentieng could not be reached for comment yesterday but he said on Sunday that Mr Bunroeun was arrested over accusations that he demanded money from a construction firm owner to approve a project.
He said the director first asked for $40,000 and created problems in approving the project when the company’s owner did not pay.
Mr Yentieng said Mr Bunroeun then demanded $100,000 to provide a construction license, half of which should be paid up front.
He said that on July 26, the owner paid $5,000 to the provincial land management department director in his office.
Mr Yentieng said that the next day, the ACU set a trap and the owner paid the remaining $45,000 to Mr Bunroeun at Mohaleap Restaurant in the commune, after which he was arrested along with one of his subordinates. The other land department official was arrested in his office later that day.
Kheang Seng, vice chairman of ACU, declined to comment yesterday.
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday ordered the Anti-Corruption Unit to intensify its crackdown on corrupt government officials following the arrests of the three Pursat provincial land management officials.
Mr Hun Sen said he would directly assign ACU officials to conduct investigations and immediately arrest any government officials who are suspected of taking bribes regarding land, illegal logging and other fields.
“These past few days I have been working on how to deal with government officials suspected of corruption,” he said. “From now on, I will send ACU officials to make immediate arrests.”
“Just do it right away, no need to wait [for permission],” Mr Hun Sen added.