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Preah Vihear officials under investigation

Two senior officials in Preah Vihear under investigation by the Anti-Corruption Unit have been removed from their posts, including a tax officer who it is alleged had gotten away without officially stamping tax forms for an entire year, the ACU announced on Friday.

ACU head Om Yentieng told reporters outside a meeting that Preah Vihear deputy prosecutor Thol Kem Hong and Taxation office boss Chea Sophal had been removed pending further investigation.

“The Ministry of Interior [Sar Kheng] removed the deputy prosecutor over corruption and a related chief of the Taxation office,” he said.

“We found that there were no taxation stamps for a whole year, but [he] just released the invoices,” he said.

Not stamping invoices before giving them to taxpayers would allow an official to pocket money meant for state coffers while leaving no proof that the tax had been collected in the first place.

Preah Vihear Provincial Court Judge Veng Bunthoeun said ACU investigators had kept information close to their chest and even did their work secretly without informing certain staff at the court of their activities.

“It is a confidential issue, and I do not have clear knowledge of this case,” he said.

Tol Kem Hong, his boss, chief prosecutor Keo Sim and Chea Sophal could not be reached for comment yesterday.

In late September, Yentieng vowed high-level arrests would be made related to ongoing investigations into the provincial court.  

An unnamed deputy court prosecutor would be arrested in relation to the freeing of a “perpetrator” and bribery, Yentieng said at the time.

The investigation, he said, had been launched after it was concluded about 30 per cent of hundreds of complaints lodged against the official were credible.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sen David at david.sen@phnompenhpost.com

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