Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ex-envoy to South Korea had piles of cash, ACU says as charges laid



Ex-envoy to South Korea had piles of cash, ACU says as charges laid

Cambodian Ambassador to South Korea Suth Dina prepares to leave Phnom Penh Municipal Court last night after being charged with illegally embezzling money.
Cambodian Ambassador to South Korea Suth Dina prepares to leave Phnom Penh Municipal Court last night after being charged with illegally embezzling money. Pha Lina

Ex-envoy to South Korea had piles of cash, ACU says as charges laid

Controversial Ambassador to South Korea Suth Dina was charged by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday for unlawful exploitation and abuse of power, after an Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) investigation found him in possession of 12.7 kilograms of gold and $7.2 million cash.

Dina’s defence lawyer, Hok Phalla, said the investigating judge had sent his client to pre-trial detention, adding that Dina told the judge that he was being wrongfully charged and only made “small administrative mistakes”, due to his diplomatic inexperience.

“He has limited experience in controlling general and administration work, especially accounting,” Phalla said. “He is still young and fresh for a diplomat.”

Dina has been charged with abuse of power under Article 35 of the Anti-Corruption Law and articles 597 and 598 of the Criminal Code for unlawful exploitation.

He was taken in for questioning by the ACU on Monday and remained in custody ever since.

At a press conference earlier in the day, ACU President Om Yentieng highlighted the extent of Dina’s infractions and the massive amounts of wealth he had allegedly amassed.

The investigation revealed that Dina was in possession of $7.2 million in cash, $3 million more than the $4.2 million he had in 2013, 339 damlungs of gold, or 12.7 kilograms, as well as 500 gems, 10 huge plots of land, and two villas, though the location of the last two were unspecified.

Yentieng added that Dina had two “unofficial staff”, Chap Meadey and close aide Son Mon Yong, who were running the embassy’s administration, bypassing Cambodian embassy staff.

“She [Maradey] did all the jobs in the embassy,” Yentieng said. “When she got money, she handed it to Suth Dina directly.

“His close man was Mon Yong, who was Korean and also in charge of everything, including paperwork for Cambodian women marrying Korean men,” he added.

Yentieng said Dina had misappropriated funds from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, using part of the monthly $20,000 given to the embassy to pay Meadey and Mon Yong, as well as failing to deposit nearly $12,000 in visa fees to state coffers despite multiple reminders.

A handcuffed Suth Dina appears outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.
A handcuffed Suth Dina appears outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday. Pha Lina

Following complaints from workers in South Korea, the ACU found that Dina was directing compensation meant for the families of dead workers into an undisclosed account, an accusation, Yentieng said, to which Dina had confessed. “I just want to say that he is not poor,” Yentieng said.

On hearing the charges against her son, Suth Dina’s mother, Yam Chheav Eng, yesterday continued to maintain his innocence and guaranteed that Dina did not possess the large sums of money attributed to him by the ACU.

“Before he went there [South Korea] he did land trading, so he has some [money],” she said. “But $7 million and a dozen kilograms of gold – it is ridiculous.”

Driving home her point, she said Dina would always borrow money from friends when he visited Cambodia, and currently could not even pay for his ailing father’s medical treatment in South Korea. She urged Prime Minister Hun Sen to “find justice for her son”.

Yi Sinorn, president of an opposition CNRP-aligned youth group in South Korea, said he was aware of the two people who allegedly assisted Dina, adding that the “Korean man” had worked at the embassy before Dina took over as envoy.

“The Korean man has been in the embassy since the previous ambassador and has many complaints against him about corruption in Korea,” Sinorn said.

He added that Dina alleged that the Cambodian government was looking to bring him down, as they suspected he would defect during the 2018 national elections.

Additional reporting by Chhay Channyda and Pech Sotheary

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Ministry mulls ASEAN+3 travel bubble

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to launch a travel bubble allowing transit between Cambodia and 12 other regional countries in a bid to resuscitate the tourism sector amid crushing impact of the ongoing spread of Covid-19, Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • PM asks India for vaccine help

    Prime Minister Hun Sen is seeking assistance from India for the provision of Covid-19 vaccines as the country has produced its own vaccine which is scheduled to be rolled out to more than 300 million Indians this year. The request was made during his meeting with

  • Capital set to beef up security

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng held the first meeting of the year with heads of armed forces in the capital to review and repair the deficiencies related to gun control, drug crimes, social order disruptions due to alcohol consumption and traffic law enforcement. Municipal