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Bribe to cut red tape lands Foreign Ministry official in court

Foreign Ministry official Ear Sae (centre) arrives at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.
Foreign Ministry official Ear Sae (centre) arrives at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday. Hong Menea

Bribe to cut red tape lands Foreign Ministry official in court

A former Ministry of Foreign Affairs official appeared at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday charged with misappropriation of public funds.

The accused, Ear Sae, 42, was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Unit on March 31 for allegedly taking $1,000 to expediate paperwork for a Cambodian woman who represents a company that exports sports clothes to Brazil.

In order to protect her identity, the ACU did not release the name of the company and refered to her as “Sreyleak”, which is not her real name.

According to documents read in court, Sae agreed in January to speed up the process of processing Sreyleak’s export paperwork in exchange for $400.

However, his superior, Sok Khoeun, refused to give them the rubber stamp because they were not in order. This happened again in February, when the price allegedly rose to $700. However, no money had changed hands at that point.

On March 31, Sreyleak returned, this time with $1,000. Khoeun, who was not aware of the money, testified in court yesterday that he again declined approval. Sae said he did not demand the $1,000.

“[Sreyleak] begged me to help process the documents and put the money in a folder. I gave the documents and the money back, but she just left. Then the ACU arrested me,” he said.

Judge Heng Houth is expected to announce the verdict on July 27.

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