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CMAC fumbles release of final KPMG audit

CMAC fumbles release of final KPMG audit

A PRESS conference on Sep 29 organized to release the results of a long-anticipated

audit of foreign donor funding to the Cambodian Mine Action Center was marred by

a refusal of CMAC management to allow media to examine the audit results first-hand.

The decision not to release the report marked a reversal of months of public assurances

by both CMAC and UNDP that the finalized audit report would be released this week.

The Chairman of CMAC's Governing Council, Ieng Mouly, who chaired the press conference

with a plainly embarrassed CMAC Director-General Khem Sophoan, cited "an agreement

between CMAC, KPMG and the donors not to release the report publicly".

Instead, Mouly presented highly abbreviated sections of the audit's finding that

Mouly repeatedly summarized as "no loss of donor money or property".

Representatives of neither KPMG nor donor countries were present at the press conference

to confirm that the information presented by CMAC was, in fact, accurate.

Confusion about the findings of the KPMG audit are apparently not limited to the

media.

Contacted by phone on Sep 30, the secretary of UNDP Resident Representative Dominique

McAdams admitted that McAdams herself had not yet been provided a copy of the audit's

findings.

UNDP oversees the trust fund that provides the 92% of CMAC's annual budget provided

by foreign donors, particularly Australia, Canada and the United States.

An embassy official of one of CMAC's main foreign donors questioned Mouly's assertion

that the restricted release of the audit findings was an articulation of donor wishes.

"I don't remember any specific consultation about [not publicly releasing the

report]," the embassy official said.

However, the official confirmed that the audit results are "good news"

for CMAC.

"There is no evidence of embezzlement of [donor] funds, which is pleasing, and

no clear evidence of 'double payments'," the official said.

However, the official indicated that Mouly's reticence in releasing the audit results

might be linked to "highly critical" assessments of CMAC's overall management.

The source padded such criticism by adding, "The audit did set pretty high standards,

and obviously this is Cambodia, after all."

The apparently overall positive findings of the audit were a source of bittersweet

satisfaction for Sam Sotha, former Director-General of CMAC.

Dismissed in August in the wake of months of management and operational scandals

within CMAC, Sotha was widely expected to be decisively linked to financial mismanagement

and fraud involving donor funds by the KPMG audit.

Instead, Sotha pointed to the apparent positive results of the audit as proof positive

of the "unfairness" of the decision to sack him.

"I felt a long time ago that certain people misled [donors] about [financial

mismanagement], but what can I do?" Sotha said philosophically.

"The action to dismiss me [before the release of the audit] was unfair ...I

always said that we had to wait for this stuff to come out before making any decisions

[regarding management changes]."

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