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ACU accuses district official of corruption

ACU accuses district official of corruption

The deputy governor of the capital’s Meanchey district, Hiek Chan Leang, is under investigation for alleged bribery in construction contracting, the head of the anti-corruption body revealed yesterday.

Om Yentieng, head of the government’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), told a packed room of local officials in Tuol Kork district yesterday that Chan Leang was suspected of presiding over a raft of corrupt practices in the construction sector in the district, which has seen a building boom in recent years.

He said that Chan Leang had allegedly taken bribes from would-be developers in exchange for illegally issuing construction permits, circumventing the normal licence application process, “so it means the ACU will investigate the deputy governor”.

Pich Keo Mony, Meanchey district governor, admitted yesterday that there was truth to some of the allegations levelled against Chan Leang.

“I have advised [Chan Leang against this behaviour] and blamed him, because everything should be lawful. We cannot do anything illegal,” he said.

Chan Leang was singled out for investigation because he heads the committee responsible for issuing construction permits, Yentieng said.

But Chan Leang said the ACU was “confused” by his office’s paperwork and maintained that his house was in order.

“I have no right to [sign off on contracts],” he said, adding that the final decision rested with District Governor Keo Mony. “Only the governor can do that. I just tick the documents. Sometimes there is jealousy within institutions, and it is leaked to the press so stories can be written so people attack each other.”

Chan Leang is the second high-profile Meanchey district official to be put under the microscope for alleged illegal practices in recent months.

On September 30 last year, former district police chief Hy Narin was arrested on eight counts of corruption after an eight-month probe found he had embezzled more than $660,000. Narin was sent to Prey Sar prison by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on October 3, 2014, on two charges of corruption and embezzling public money.

According to a report by the ACU in December, 87 per cent of all complaints lodged to the body are made against officials who were appointed by government decree.

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