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Official charged in pension scam: ACU

The Kampong Cham Provincial Court may teach a lesson to a civil servant accused of pocketing at least one month’s pension allocated to 10 retired teachers.

Officials from the Anti-Corruption Unit in cooperation with the provincial prosecutor arrested Mang Yusreng, director of Srei Santhor district’s Social Affairs office on Saturday, said Kampong Cham Provincial Court deputy prosecutor Plang Sophal.

Yusreng is being held on charges of illegally exploiting others’ public benefits as well as creating and using fake public documents, Sophal said.

“The judge decided to detain the suspect temporarily while the case is investigated further,” Sophal said yesterday.

The ACU and Kampong Cham authorities arrested Yusreng after a lawsuit was filed by the alleged victims, who say they did not receive their 200,000 riel ($50) pension payments for March of 2012, according to a posting on ACU’s website. Allegations were posted on the website a day before authorities arrested Yusreng.

In addition to withholding the teachers’ pay, Yusreng also falsified thumbprints on documents, the ACU has alleged.

The ACU is appealing to retired people in Srei Santhor district who have not received pension payments to notify them through their telephone hotlines. The ACU investigation has, so far, found Yusreng appears to have acted alone, without the involvement of anyone in Srei Santhor district’s education office, the ACU said.

While Yusreng’s arrest was a step in the right direction, Cambodia’s Independent Civil Servant Association president Kao Poeun yesterday said that the ACU should continue digging, rather than letting the buck stop at the social affairs office director.

If the government truly wants to curb corruption, Poeun said, it must widen its investigation and look into more senior officials who may have taken part directly or have been aware of Yusreng’s alleged scam.

“[Yusreng’s] position is not one in which he could commit this offence without his superiors’ knowledge. Authorities should look for more accomplices,” Poeun said. “Low salaries paid to civil servants lead them toward such corruption.”

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