The Anti-Corruption Unit has uncovered evidence that Liem Bunroeun, the Pursat provincial land management department director, was involved in graft involving more than $400,000 since 2016.
In a report dated July 31 and obtained yesterday, the ACU said it uncovered several cases linking Mr Bunroeun to corrupt practices since he became the department director.
“Based on evidence uncovered during investigations and his confession, we found that Liem Bunroeun took bribes totalling $372,747 and 49 million riel [about $12,000) in 140 cases,” it said. "In another case, he received $20,000.”
The report said that when ACU officials inspected Mr Bunroeun’s office on July 27, they found $17,529 and also about $3,978 in riel, inside six envelopes, which Mr Bunroeun admitted had been obtained illegally.
It said that since he became the department director, Mr Bunroeun had used money obtained from graft to repair his house at a cost of $40,000, bought two houses for a total of $240,000, bought a plot of land for $44,000, bought a Lexus 570 SUV and a KIA Picanto, and paid $40,000 to start a birds-nest business.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court on July 31, charged Mr Bunroeun and two of his subordinates for allegedly seeking bribes to approve a construction project.
Mr Bunroeun, his deputy Cheang Vuthy and Te Buntheng, a department official, were charged with misappropriation of public funds, abuse of power and money laundering. All three have since been placed in pre-trial detention.
They were arrested in Pursat city’s Phteah Prey commune by Anti-Corruption Unit officials during a raid led by its chairman Om Yentieng.
The ACU report also noted that in July, the unit had cracked down on two other cases.
One involved Tep Thyrith, an Appeal Court clerk, who was charged with misappropriating public funds.
The other involved three police officers who were arrested by police on July 18 for allegedly accepting bribes to release 18 Chinese nationals accused of operating Voice over Internet Protocol scams in Kampong Speu province.
The police officers were identified as Major General Soeu Sitha, deputy director of the Identification Department at the General Department of Immigration, Rath Pin, a Khmer Identity bureau officer at the department, and Van Sopheap, a legal procedure bureau officer at the department.
Ly Sreysros, head of Young Analysts Group, yesterday lauded the ACU’s efforts to crack down on graft cases but noted that it should focus more on cases involving high level officials.
She noted that the corruption in Cambodia was a cause for concern and the ACU should crack down on all levels of officials.
“If ACU investigates only low level officials, then it is not applying the law impartially. “It should also investigate high level officials and powerful people, too,” Ms Sreysros said.
Last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen 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.