The government’s Anticorruption Unit has completed an investigation of officials at the Ministry of Social Affairs accused of stealing money from the pensions of retired civil servants, Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday.
Speaking to hundreds of government officials yesterday in Phnom Penh, the premier said the probe had uncovered corruption on the part of a number of people, but that no arrests will be made at this time.
“From the investigation, [the ACU] now knows everything about the graft, but has not taken any measures for arrests,” Hun Sen said. “If you want to try it again, you’ll be in trouble.”
The premier added that he had personally ordered the investigation in March, and that it had uncovered Ministry of Social Affairs staff pocketing the pensions of former government officials who are now deceased as well as living retirees who had become frustrated with the ministry and had stopped trying to collect their pensions.
“The bureaucracy and ignorance of the officials at the Ministry of Social Affairs dissuaded the retirees from coming back again and again,” Hun Sen said.
ACU spokesman Keo Remy declined to comment on the investigation announced by the prime minister, though he said ACU head Om Yentieng may had a press conference on the issue soon. Om Yentieng could not be reached for comment.
Social Affairs Ministry spokesman Lim El Djurado said there are roughly 90,000 retired soldiers on civil servants on the government payroll, and that the ministry is attempting to reform the pension system so that payments will be processed through local banks.
“In order to clean up illegal activity by some officials, we are now in the process of reforming our banking system, and we expect this process to be completed by the end of 2012,” he said.
Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, called on the government to follow through on the prime minister’s warning with prosecutions of the officials involved.
“I think Prime Minister Hun Sen has to show real political will to make arrests of those suspected of graft and punish them in accordance with the law,” Rong Chhun said.