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Claim and counter-claim

Claim and counter-claim

May 22: Following pressure from the World Bank, Finance Minister Keat Chhon

freezes the accounts of three Bank-funded government projects worth $68.4 million.

June 3: The Ministry of Finance unfreezes the funds for the three projects,

claiming the Bank had not provided any evidence of corruption and that the unsubstantiated

allegations are damaging Cambodia's image.

June 6: The Bank suspends funding on the three projects and presents the government

with the results of its corruption investigation into seven Bank-funded infrastructure

projects. The Bank says it has found evidence of misprocurement in 30 contracts worth

$7.6 million. Local media mistakenly report this is the amount to be repaid.

June 9: Keat Chhon says the government will repay $7.6 million to the World

Bank. Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay presses him to confirm whether the government

will prosecute corrupt officials.

June 12: The Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection

receives the results of the World Bank's investigation into corruption and launches

its own investigation.

June 13: The Ministry of Finance announces that, according to its own calculations,

it must repay only $1.7 million to the World Bank.

June 14: At the quarterly Government Donor Coordinating Committee meeting,

ministers repeat the government's position that the Bank has failed to provide definitive

evidence of wrongdoing. German Ambassador Pius Fischer asks government representatives

whether anyone will be held to account for the misuse of funds. Keat Chhon accuses

the World Bank of providing inadequate evidence to back up its allegations of corruption

and says the Bank notified news media about the affair before informing the government.

June 15: Prime Minister Hun Sen urges the Bank to provide adequate evidence

to support its allegations and says foreign consultants must also be held to account.

June 16: The Ministry of Finance launches a newspaper advertising campaign

that questions whether the Bank's allegations are politically motivated and demands

for the second time in a week that the Bank release evidence to substantiate its

allegations of misprocurement in bank-funded projects.

June 17: The World Bank announces that it has provided the government with

specific information about the corruption, including documents identifying the companies,

contracts and alleged irregularities uncovered by the Bank's investigators, that

it says should be of "great help" to the government during its own investigation.

National Audit Authority Chairman Ut Chhon says he had not seen the Bank's information

and had not begun the audit of the projects that he announced on May 29.

June 18: The World Bank announces that the three suspended projects valued

at $7.6 million will be cancelled but clarifies that $7.6 million is not the amount

to be repaid. It says that amount has not been calculated yet.

June 20: Hun Sen says that when Cambodia repaid $2.8 million to the Bank in

2005 for misprocurement in the military demobilization project, there was also a

lack of evidence then to back up the Bank's charges. He says the Bank targeted the

demobilization project to undermine China. Son Chhay says the government should suspend

the heads of the ministries implicated in the sandal.

June 21: Hun Sen demands that the World Bank release the names of the witnesses

who provided evidence to the Bank's investigators. He says the national police will

do their best to protect them.

June 23: The Bank releases details of 13 more contracts worth $4.3 million

found to have evidence of misprocurement. This brings the total number of affected

contracts to 43. The contracts are worth $11.9 million and at least six government

ministries are now implicated in the affair.

June 28: The World Bank announces a new $14 million grant to Cambodia for

a project to improve governance and fight corruption.

  • Additional reporting by Eva Shum


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