The Ministry of Commerce’s Consume Protection, Competition and Fraud Repression directorate-general (CCF) sent out letters to 42 petrol station owners, enquiring about a joint complaint they’ve filed with Kandal provincial hall and the Anti-Corruption unit (ACU) against Toch Chao Koy, branch manager of the CCF in Kandal province.
The complaint accuses Chao Koy of extorting money from them by fining them without invoices and, in some cases, issuing invoices listing fines in amounts that were less than the actual amount of money he demanded.
According to multiple copies of the letter seen by The Post and dated July 18 which were signed by Khuon Savuth, deputy director-general of the CCF, the 42 gasoline station owners have been invited to visit the headquarters of the CCF in Veal Sbov commune’s Kdei Takoy village in Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov district on July 22 at 9am to meet with Phan Oun, director-general of the CCF.
Phan Oun told The Post on July 20 that he had invited the 42 owners to ask them about the complaint and he said that he would take further action after hearing from them on the matter.
Kruy Malen, head of Kandal’s provincial administration, told The Post on July 20 that he had not yet received the complaint from the owners, but when he did he would inform the provincial leadership in case they decided to take legal action after examining the complaint.
ACU head Om Yentieng and CCF’s Kandal branch manager Toch Chao Koy who stands accused in the matter, could not be reached for comment on July 20.
In the joint complaint signed by the 42 owners on February 21, 2022, the owners state that the CCF officials in Kandal did not conduct real inspections and worked outside of the law. It says that the law was being applied arbitrarily in order to fine them and that they as gas station owners had been informed by provincial hall each year that they had to apply each year to have their fuel dispensing equipment calibrated and provincial officials had inspected and approved their equipment on a yearly basis.
The complaint continued that in contrast, CCF officials hadn’t conducted inspections and just declared without evidence that the gas station owners were short changing their customers and dispensing low-quality fuel in order to threaten them and brazenly demand millions of riel in fines, the legitimacy of which was beyond the competency of the owners to determine on their own.
Further, the demands for money did not match what was written in the invoices once they were paid and they had even imposed fines on some owners without issuing any invoices.