A police officer and personal assistant to a secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior was arrested yesterday morning by the Anti-Corruption Unit for blackmailing and extorting money from a businessman, a penal police official told the Post.
Policeman Sam Sarith, 43, allegedly attempted to extort more than $1,000 from Thun Buntheoun, a businessman involved in a pending land dispute lawsuit.
Sarith began calling the victim and demanding money from him after a lawsuit against the businessman was filed in August regarding a 2008 sale of land that the plaintiff claimed does not exist. The case was transferred to a secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior and the file landed in Sarith’s possession, said Lam Buntha, a penal officer.
“After receiving the documents from his chief, Sarith called the defendant to the office. He extorted money from the victim, promising to help defend him in court,” Buntha said.
The police officer allegedly regularly phoned the victim, demanding $400 in every call. Unable to afford the mounting bribes, the down-on-his-luck businessman finally turned to the Anti-Corruption Unit and sent in an official complaint, Buntha said.
“[Sarith] was arrested this morning when he came to the victim’s office in Phnom Penh to receive the $1,000 he demanded,” Buntha added.
The spokesman for the Interior Ministry and officials at the Anti-Corruption Unit could not be reached for comment yesterday. The accused police officer did not pick up or return phone calls.