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ACU investigating Global Fund claims

The Anti-Corruption Unit is investigating graft in the Ministry of Health after a Global Fund probe uncovered rampant bribe-taking in mosquito net and other procurements, a top official said yesterday.

Chhay Savuth, vice-chairman at the ACU, 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) “are being investigated”.

“We have read the Global Fund report, and we are studying it and conducting an investigation into what is alleged in the report,” he said.

The Global Fund investigation found that former CNM director Duong Socheat and his deputy received more than $410,000 in direct “commissions” from two of the world’s largest mosquito net manufacturers, compromising Global Fund contracts worth more than $11 million between 2006 and 2011.

An unidentified “Senior Procurement Officer” at NCHADS also obtained improper commissions from suppliers, compromising more than $317,000 in procurements between 2009 and 2012, the report says.

“So far, I can’t say if we have found whether [officials at CNM and NCHADS] were corrupt, because the investigation is still ongoing, and I dare not say anything until our investigation is completed,” Savuth said. “This investigation is like when you are fishing. You can’t say whether you will catch something until you’re done.”

Savuth added that the ACU had monitored procurements handled by CNM and NCHADS, but could not say when such monitoring began.

“Every time they are doing procurement processes, we are invited. Both NCHADS and CNM’s procurement processes are good and transparent.”

In a statement released on Friday, the ACU thanked the National Aids Authority – an independent body not implicated in the Global Fund report – for inviting the ACU to monitor its public procurements, which it said were done “correctly”.

The statement did not mention the Global Fund, NCHADS or the CNM, but pledged the ACU’s commitment to monitoring public procurements.

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