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ACU asks Global Fund for evidence in probe

Cambodia's anti-corruption unit has criticised the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for not sending them the findings of its investigation into widespread corruption in health grants.

Chhay Savuth, vice-president of the Anti-Corruption Unit, said he had contacted the Global Fund to request evidence of the corruption it uncovered in government bodies, NGOs and private contractors.

“Until now, we did not get any evidence or documents sent to the ACU. Do not be afraid, please bring [the evidence] to us,” he said.

The Global Fund published its exhaustive report, which is publicly available to download from its website, on November 13.

“If [the Global Fund] said they found corruption, why do they not walk into the ACU and bring the evidence to show us they found that the officials of Health Ministry did corruption,” Savuth said. “We open the door 24 hours per day welcoming all kinds of corruption cases.”

In an emailed response to Savuth’s comments, Seth Faison, head of communications at the Fund, said: “We are working with the government of Cambodia closely.”

Following the release of the report in November, Savuth said officials at both the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control (CNM) and the National Centre for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STD Control (NCHADS) were under ACU investigation.

“It does not mean we are not taking action with this case if the Global Fund does not file a complaint to us. But we just wonder why the Global Fund spreads that Health Ministry officials did corruption,”
Savuth said.

The Fund “must come to the ACU to ask us to take action”, he added.

Health Minister Mam Bun Heng, NCHADS director Mean Chhivun and CNM director Char Meng Chuor could not be reached yesterday.

In a letter to Bun Heng dated December 9, the Fund set a 30-day deadline for the government to refund “misused” grant money otherwise it would suspend, cancel or reduce programs worth more than $100 million.

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