Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday ordered the Anti-Corruption Unit to intensify its crackdown on corrupt government officials following the arrests of three Pursat provincial land management officials suspected of seeking bribes to approve a construction project.
Mr Hun Sen said he is committed to terminating the services of corrupt officials in order to safeguard national interest. He noted that assets belonging to anyone charged with bribery should also be frozen.
Mr Hun Sen said he will 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.
Referring to the three Pursat provincial land management department officials who were nabbed on Saturday, Mr Hun Sen said he had worked with the ACU on the case and planned a trap leading to their arrests.
“They are ruining the nation and the Hun Sen administration. Do not just withdraw their positions, but freeze all their assets,” he said.
On Saturday, the ACU arrested Pursat provincial land management department director Liem Bunroeun and two subordinates over an allegation that they sought bribes from a construction firm owner to approve a project.
Mr Hun Sen said the three officials created problems in approving the project and demanded $100,000 to provide a construction license, 50 percent of which should be paid up front.
He noted the owner already paid $5,000. Therefore, he ordered ACU officials to set a trap and get the owner to pay the remaining $45,000 to the three officials at a restaurant so that they could be arrested.
ACU chairman Om Yentieng yesterday said the unit had investigated this specific case since last year after it received a complaint from the construction firm owner, noting that Mr Hun Sen also received a complaint.
“We conducted an investigation into the case since 2018. At the same time, Prime Minister Hun Sen also reported the matter and ordered us to take serious action,” he said. “We will strengthen our action against corruption.”
Mr Yentieng also called on all ministers and government officials to report suspected cases of corruption within institutions in order to get rid of corrupted officials.
Him Yun, director of Coalition for Integrity and Social Accountability, yesterday said the ACU must address the problems firmly and monitor all development fields where corruption can take place.
“The action must be taken without any exception, especially among powerful officials,” he said. “All sectors must work together in good faith to terminate corruption, or else we won’t achieve it.”
Mr Hun Sen also ordered Land Management Minister Chea Sophara to conduct checks on construction work going on without permits and see if there is corruption involving officials seeking bribes to approve projects.