Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Daily directors barred from leaving country




Daily directors barred from leaving country

A man reads the Cambodia Daily in Phnom Penh on its last day of publication after the paper was forced to close over a massive purported tax bill
A man reads the Cambodia Daily in Phnom Penh on its last day of publication after the paper was forced to close over a massive purported tax bill. AFP

Daily directors barred from leaving country

The Tax Department yesterday issued a letter asking the Immigration Department to prevent Deborah Krisher-Steele and Douglas Steele – both representatives of the Cambodia Daily – from leaving the country, a day after department head Kong Vibol said he would continue to pursue the tax dispute that precipitated the paper’s closure.

The Daily published its last edition yesterday, complying with an order to either pay an “exorbitant” $6.3 million tax bill by September 4 or cease operations.

On Sunday, the newspaper announced that Deputy Publisher Krisher-Steele would be handing its assets back to founder Bernard Krisher, her father, who was willing to face any legal action stemming from the tax dispute.

The letter says that Krisher-Steele and General Manager Douglas Steele – both listed as members of the board of directors by the Ministry of Commerce – had failed to fulfil their tax duties and still owed 25 billion riel (around $6.3 million), and that the department would continue to seek to collect the debt, the paper’s closure notwithstanding.

Additionally, it asks the Immigration Department to prevent the duo from leaving the country.

“The General Tax Department would like to request cooperation from the Department of Immigration by taking action to ban the travel out of Cambodia for Deborah Krisher-Steele and Douglas Eric Steele in order to put the burden on these two individuals to pay tax to the state, to eventually avoid the risk of losing the income,” the letter reads.

Both are named as directors of Bernard Krisher Jimusho Co, Ltd, the company Krisher-Steele formed when she took over the newspaper from her father earlier this year. The paper’s closure, after 24 years of hard-hitting reporting, comes amid a sweeping clampdown on independent media in the Kingdom, with at least 15 radio stations – mostly carrying content from Radio Free Asia, Voice of America and Voice of Democracy – also forced to close in recent weeks.

Immigration Department head Sok Phal refused to comment on the directive, as did Uk Hai Seila, director of investigations with the immigration police.

However, a police officer at Phnom Penh International Airport confirmed that immigration officials had received the directive, which also contains copies of their passports.

Steele declined to comment on the directive yesterday, and Krisher-Steele did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.

The Tax Department’s Vibol, who could not be reached yesterday, has maintained that his department will continue to work on retrieving the debt.

“Even though there is a closure, the enforcement on tax will continue. The debt must be paid and the one who is responsible for this news institution is the one who is responsible for the state debt,” he told government mouthpiece Fresh News on Sunday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Body of woman killed in Bangkok returns

    The Cambodian embassy in Thailand is working to repatriate the body of a casino dealer who was shot dead in Bangkok on Monday night. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Kuy Kuong told The Post on Wednesday that officials are preparing paperwork to

  • Chikungunya hits 15 provinces, says gov’t

    Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Thursday that the chikungunya outbreak in the Kingdom has spread to 15 provinces. Some 1,700 people are now suspected to have the disease. Vandine urged people to prevent its further spread by eliminating shelters for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

  • Gov’t exempts visa A and B holders from Covid fees

    Airline passengers who are diplomats and officials of international organisations holding Type A and B visas for travel to Cambodia are exempted from paying Covid-19 testing fees, said the Ministry of Health in its latest adjustment of rules on Wednesday. Health Minister Mam Bun Heng

  • Bill covering dress code draws ire

    Ministry of Interior secretary of state Ouk Kim Lek responded on Tuesday to criticism concerning a draft law that would ban women from wearing overly revealing clothing, saying that input from all parties will be considered as the law moves through the promulgation process. Several

  • Passing the test: Is Cambodia’s education system failing its people?

    The Kingdom’s education system needs to grow its people but some flaws might stifle​ this growth Coming from the Khmer Rouge occupation, with the loss of many scholars and academicians and a collapsed government, the education system had to be reconstructed from scratch – one

  • What’s the deal with Cambodia and China’s FTA?

    Cambodia’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China kicks off a series of FTAs in future but for now, critics wonder what else the parties could bring to the table apart from what it already has to date By the end of this year, Cambodia