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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Justice officials briefed on asset declaration process

Justice officials briefed on asset declaration process

THE Ministry of Justice held a meeting yesterday on the ambitious asset declaration programme that will be conducted by the Anticorruption Unit over the next two months, providing officials with a 16-page, seven-point declaration form for submission to the ACU.

The form provides separate pages for declarations of assets in the following categories: Real estate, vehicles, property such as jewellery worth more than 4 million riel (US$1,000) that can be easily exchanged for cash, business interests, debts and income. ACU staff say roughly 100,000 government officials, including the Prime Minister, are expected to submit the asset declaration forms by the end of next month.

Observers have criticised the declaration regulations because they do not require officials to include assets of spouses and family members, nor details of personal bank accounts.

In the declaration form, the ACU offers officials the chance to make  “optional” declarations of their banking and financial details.

“Not declaring money in the bank is the same as declaring it, because the bank is a legal place to keep money,” the form reads. “For money declared that is kept outside the bank, it will be useful as legal evidence ... during inquiries from the Anticorruption Unit.”

Ith Rady, an undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Justice, said in yesterday’s presentation that while the declaration of bank details was optional, government officials would “face judgment if it is discovered that they haven’t declared their assets or they have made false declarations”.

Ith Rady said roughly 900 Ministry of Justice officials, including secretaries of state, judges and court clerks, are required to take part in the declaration process.

Kheang Seng, the ACU’s head of law enforcement, said that officials in all 24 of the Kingdom’s provinces had already been advised on the declaration process, and that only a few more ministries needed to be briefed on the subject.

During a meeting last week in Kampong Thom province, ACU head Om Yentieng reportedly identified officials by name, including Kampong Thom Provincial Governor Chhun Chhorn, who he said were “black-listed” and under investigation by the ACU for taking bribes from illegal loggers, according to a police official who attended the meeting. 

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SAM RITH

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