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

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • PM: Do not defile Tonle Sap swamp forest or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered police to arrest anyone – including government officials – involved with the deforestation of the flooded forests surrounding the Tonle Sap Lake because it is an area important to the spawning of many species of fish, among other reasons. Speaking in a