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ACU promises arrests, declines to elaborate

Anti-corruption Unit pre­sident Om Yentieng announced plans to arrest a tax official implicated in graft, but declined to offer specifics about the case yesterday.

Speaking at the opening of a two-day anti-corruption workshop two weeks after Prime Minister Hun Sen gave a speech focusing on reform, Yentieng promised to weed out corruption, but again declined to offer any specifics on how the agency – accused of being toothless by rights groups and the opposition – would accomplish this goal.

“Look at your image in mirrors, all of you,” Yentieng said, promising that those who failed to reform would be arrested.

“If you find that you are wrong, correct yourself. No one must ask for money in hospitals, or markets, or on the roads,” he added.

When reached later, Yentieng and ACU spokesman Keo Remy declined to comment further on the agency’s plans.

But when asked by reporters at the event how many complaints had been filed to the ACU and how many had resulted in arrests, Yentieng again shied away from specifics, saying that about 30 complaints had been filed to the ACU in “the first term” of this year, and that two or three had been actively investigated.

However, Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, which participated in the workshop, said the ACU had received many complaints since its 2010 inception.

“The current mechanism is not effective. We don’t know the level of ACU officials’ skills. As far as I know, more than 1,000 complaints have been filed to the Anti-Corruption Unit, but there is only a little bit of complaints investigated,” Kol said, pegging the amount at about 30 per cent. “We are waiting to see at what level the [ACU] will enforce [the law].”

Meanwhile, Cambodia National Rescue Party spokesman Yim Sovann criticised the ACU for failing to take on corruption at leadership levels.

“As long as there is no change of [leaders], the leaders are still the same, so [corruption] is still the same,” he said.

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