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Camerin denies wrongdoing

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
CNRP lawmakers Um Sam An (right) and Real Camerin (left) hold a Cambodian flag in front of Border Post 203 in Svay Rieng’s Kampong Ro district during a visit to the Cambodia-Vietnam border in July. Vireak Mai

Camerin denies wrongdoing

Opposition lawmaker Real Camerin has rejected allegations cited by the Anti-Corruption Unit that he cheated donors out of $55,000 aimed at funding a trip to inspect claimed Vietnamese intrusions at the border.

On July 31, Camerin, who is currently in the United States on a fundraising tour, was summoned by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) for questioning based on three anonymous complaints alleging he had pocketed most of the money.

“This complaint was deliberately fabricated for the purpose of ruining my reputation and honour,” Camerin’s Friday letter reads.

“I urge the Anti-Corruption Unit to take action by finding the bad people who are intentionally slandering my honour and taking legal action [against them] in order to punish them according to the law.”

In the letter, Camerin said he had received a total of $20,750 in donations from Cambodia and abroad for the trip, which he said was spent on chartering buses, buying flags, food, water and other materials.

The letter does not, however, provide any evidence – such as receipts – attempting to disprove the allegations, nor does it say when Camerin would return to Cambodia.

The Cambodia National Rescue Party, which distanced itself from Camerin’s border trips when the ACU’s letter was publicised last week, said it would support Camerin submitting an expense report to the ACU.

Nevertheless, CNRP spokesman Ou Chanrith said he thought the ACU’s intervention was unnecessary in this case.

“The ACU should not call on him to be summoned based on anonymous complaints, because I think if donors really wanted to know the expenses, they would have asked or questioned Camerin directly.”

Contacted yesterday, ACU chief Om Yentieng said he had not seen Camerin’s response yet, although he said he would inform the plaintiffs that their accusations were wrong if Camerin’s questioning dispelled any suspicions of wrongdoing.

The corruption accusations are centred on a trip to the Vietnam border made by Camerin and others on July 19, less than one month after an earlier trip devolved into a violent clash with Vietnamese residents and officials.

Some opposition party insiders also raised concerns to the Post last week about where the donations were going.

However, on the heels of CNRP Senator Hong Sok Hour’s arrest on Saturday over a Facebook post about the same border issue, activist Am Sam Ath, of the rights group Licadho, said Camerin’s case was more about the ruling party cracking
down on the opposition than legitimate concerns about corruption.

“To me, I think it is clear that CNRP lawmakers who are now being threatened by the courts and complaints are [victims] of a Cambodian People’s Party-led campaign,” he said.

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