The Phnom Penh Municipal Court sent an Interior Ministry official to pre-trial detention on Friday for allegedly demanding bribes from around 100 business owners in the capital, according to an Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) press release.
Huy Hoeun, deputy director of the ministry’s intellectual property rights department, was arrested on March 23 at a local café and sent to court the next day, following which he was held in custody to face charges of misappropriating public funds. He faces a two- to five-year sentence and $1,000 to $2,500 fine.
“The Anti-Corruption Unit caught Huy Hoeun red handed and is preparing for the lawsuit based on the court’s procedures,” the statement released yesterday reads.
The statement alleges Hoeun was charging local businesses, including karaoke and massage parlours, between $5 and $1,000 under the guise of inspecting licences. After following him for a few days the ACU arrested him last Thursday.
Court spokesman Ly Sophanna said Hoeun was charged under articles 592 and 593 of the Criminal Code pertaining to misappropriation of funds, and Article 32 of the Anti-Corruption Law, which refers to the same charges.
Sophanna added that Hoeun’s anti-economic crime colleague Em Kosal faced the same charges but had absconded.
A business owner, under the condition of anonymity, said Hoeun asked him for $100 for each of the last three years, claiming he didn’t have the requisite licences.