THE Swedish government has ordered its Chief Public Prosecutor to investigate allegations
of corrupt practices by Cambodia's Mobitel.
Mobitel's majority shareholder is Millicom International Cellular SA, one of Sweden's
"The whole problem of corruption and bribery in some of the countries with which
Sweden is co-operating is under official scrutiny and public debate at the moment,"
Swedish Parliamentary Speaker Birgitta Dahl stated in a March 27 written response
to MP Son Chhay's allegations of allegedly corrupt practices by Mobitel. "I
have therefore forwarded your letter to the Chief Public Prosecutor in Sweden."
However Dahl added that prosecution was unlikely since Mobitel "...is technically
not a Swedish [company]."
The Swedish Embassy confirmed that Swedish authorities were investigating Chhay's
allegations but reiterated that legal action against Mobitel in Sweden would be difficult
because it's company registration is in Luxembourg and New York rather than Sweden.
Chhay's letter had listed a series of examples of questionable conduct by Mobitel
in Cambodia that Chhay had uncovered as Chairman of the National Assembly's committee
responsible for telecommunications.
In particular Chhay had emphasized Mobitel's monthly payments of $2,500 to Minister
of Post and Communications So Khun as an "honorary advisor" and reports
that the company had paid "large amount[s]...to various high ranking government
members and officials to have [telecommunication] projects approved and amended outside
of the legal channels."
Dahl expressed support for Chhay's investigations and indicated that the Swedish
government had expressed concern about the relations between Mobitel and government
officials to Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng, who visited Sweden as a guest of Millicom
"I completely agree with your judgment that practices of the kind you describe
are totally intolerable," Dahl wrote. "I also know that this general Swedish
position was stated very clearly to Mr. Sar Kheng...when he was here in Stockholm
Five days before Sar Kheng's arrival in Sweden on March 19 he vehemently denied Post
enquiries regarding his reported Millicom-funded Swedish travel plans, stating explicitly
that he had no plans whatsoever to go to Sweden and would in no case accept a paid
trip by a private company to do so.
Efforts to contact Sar Kheng for clarification regarding his visit to Sweden and
the pending investigation by Swedish judicial authorities were unsuccessful.
Mark Hanna, spokesman for Mobitel in Phnom Penh, told the Post that he had not heard
of the Swedish investigation into Millicom/Mobitel Cambodia operations.
"There has to be some way of dealing with [corruption involving foreign companies
in Cambodia] by contacting the governments involved that have more advanced rules
and regulations against corruption," Chhay said.