The Anti-corruption Unit yesterday started to conduct a census of government officials – including Prime Minister Hun Sen – who will be required to declare their assets between January 1 and February 28.
Keo Remy, a spokesman for the ACU, said yesterday that the details of high-ranking officials including the premier, deputy prime ministers, senior ministers and secretaries of states would be collected first, followed by those of police, military and border officials.
“We start to work from today to collect the names and positions of officials and we hope that the first ever asset declaration will come,” he said.
Officials will be required to declare assets including business interests, property and vehicles that they own, but will not have to disclose their bank account balances, according to a copy of the asset declaration form distributed by the ACU on Thursday last week.
Kimsour Phirith, a lawmaker for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said yesterday that asset declarations could be a useful way of identifying corrupt officials, but noted that non-disclosure of bank balances presented a significant loophole.
“While the money in bank accounts is not required for the declaration, I think that the corruption is still there because no one can control the accounts,” he said.
He also called for the declarations to be made available to the public.
“I support the measure to fight corruption, but to keep asset declarations confidential will not have a strong affect,” he said.
The ACU has estimated that about 100,000 government officials will be required to declare their assets before the February 28 deadline.
Keo Remy declined to comment yesterday on the case of Pursat provincial prosecutor Top Chan Sereyvuth who was arrested along with two personal bodyguards last month on charges of corruption, extortion and false imprisonment.
The case marked the first high-profile arrests made since the ACU was established earlier this year.
He said that only ACU head Om Yentieng, who could not be reached yesterday, was authorised to comment on the case.