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Takeo military official accused of corruption

An army commander stationed on the shared border with Vietnam in Takeo province is being investigated over accusations he embezzled and extorted almost $500,000 from his unit and local businesses, according to officials.

A senior military official from Takeo operational military base, who declined to be named, yesterday said Eng Kheang, commander of the 301 operational unit, was the subject of a complaint filed by 80 of his own men.

The source said a nine-page document lodged with the base in November alleges that Kheang skimmed the salary of 21 soldiers; embezzled cash earmarked for operations, gasoline and health care; and misappropriated donations to the unit.

Kheang also allegedly encouraged, and took a slice from, the shakedown of businesses on the border, the official said, explaining the case was being probed by a joint inspection team from the Defence Ministry’s Army Headquarters, the region three military base and his base in Takeo.

Speaking yesterday, Kheang denied the accusations, which he said were a vindictive response by fewer than 10 men to his strict discipline and anti-smuggling stance.

“Some of them just want my position, and others were angry with me because they lost their interests in smuggling motorbikes,” he said.

Kheang noted no complainants had been made in person during the ongoing probe.

Army HQ spokesman Mao Phalla said he was yet to receive the investigation team’s final report.

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