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

  • School reopening to be postponed until November

    Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting a delay of school reopening across the Kingdom until November, when the new academic year begins. In his letter, Chuon Naron said the postponement is warranted to avoid the new

  • Foreigners in Kingdom must now register in FPCS system

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) announced that it would not grant visa extensions to foreigners staying in Cambodia if their names are not listed on the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS) by July 1. Foreign nationals can register in the

  • Covid-19 at ‘alarming rate’, health ministry says

    The Covid-19 risk level for individual transmission is at an “alarming rate” in the Kingdom and its probability is “not low”, warned Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine. “Cambodia’s coronavirus scenario is classified as being at an early stage of the pandemic because of ongoing

  • Mandatory quarantine for 30,000 workers begins

    Some of the roughly 30,000 workers from factories and enterprises across the Kingdom who went on leave during Khmer New Year began their government-imposed 14-day quarantine on Monday. Speaking at a press conference while visiting workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Monday, Ministry

  • Unemployed to get $40 per month

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has instructed enterprises, business owners and travel agencies in five provinces to prepare the proper forms for the suspension of employment contracts. This, it said, will make it easier for the ministry to transfer $40 a month to workers

  • Gov’t travel ban flouted

    While the majority of Cambodians have paid heed to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to stay put and not travel during the Khmer New Year – the holidays of which were also postponed – several hundred have left Phnom Penh nonetheless. They have allegedly breached provincial

  • G20 energy ministers struggle to finalise oil output cuts

    Top oil producers struggled to finalise production cuts during a virtual summit held by Group of 20 (G20) energy ministers on Friday, despite US President Donald Trump’s mediation efforts to end a standoff with Mexico. The final G20 communique appeared to gloss over simmering divisions

  • Kingdom revises travel restriction order

    The government on Friday eased the district and provincial border restrictions issued on Thursday. People are now allowed to cross districts within their provinces. Phnom Penh and Kandal province are to be treated as a single region where people are allowed to travel freely. In

  • Private schools struggling

    The Cambodian Higher Education Association has claimed that 113 private educational establishments are facing bankruptcy because of their inability to pay rent and staff salaries in light of nationwide school closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. It said the financial trouble started when the Ministry of