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Mobitel's ministrations

Mobitel's ministrations

Dear Editor,

Your December 21 article (Swedes drop Mobitel case) details

an outrageous attempt by two of Cambodia's seniormost officials to defend the

practise of bribery.

You say that Sar Kheng, Minister of Interior and

Deputy Prime Minister, as well as Heng Samrin, Vice-Chairman of the National

Assembly, have written to the speaker of the Swedish Parliament stating that

Mobitel's payment since 1997 of US$ 2,500 per month to the Minister of Post and

Telecommunications for his services as an "honorary advisor" to the company does

not constitute a violation of Cambodian law.

How Sar Kheng and Heng

Samrin have come to this conclusion is difficult to understand, and neither

offers in their letters an explanation as to why the bribery provision of the

criminal law in force should not apply to Mobitel and Mr Zaman, the

representative of Mobitel's Swedish mother company Millicom International

Cellular.

Article 58 of the Transitional Criminal Provisions, the law in

force, reads:

"Any person who corrupts or attempts to corrupt any elected

official, civil servant, military personnel, or official agent of any of the

four Cambodian parties to the Paris Agreement or of any registered political

party who, while performing official duties or tasks related to such duties, by

promising property, service, money, staff, professional position, document,

authorization or any benefit whatsoever in exchange for any one of these same

benefits is guilty of bribery and shall be liable to a punishment of one to

three years in prison."

The crime of bribery thus requires that the money

is given in exchange for a benefit and that it is paid to an elected official, a

civil servant, military personnel or an official agent of the four Cambodian

parties to the Paris Agreements or any registered political party.

These

requirements seem to be fulfilled. The payments made to the Minister have

obviously been paid in exchange for a benefit, considering that he has been a

well paid " honorary advisor" at a time during which he has had control over

decisions of considerable value and importance to the company.

The

Minister is also an agent of a political party. This is proven by the fact that

the Law on the Organization of the Council of Ministers, Article 5, provides

that a person in order to qualify as a Minister must belong to a political party

represented in the National Assembly.

Why Heng Samrin has come to the

defense of Mobitel is unknown to the writer of this letter. However, it is

interesting that Sar Kheng has been using his position as Deputy Prime Minister

and Minister of Interior to try to influence the criminal investigation

undertaken by the Swedish authorities.

It is no secret that Sar Kheng has

good connections with the Swedish company. His visit to Sweden in March 2001,

organized by Mr Zaman and Mobitel's mother company Millicom International

Cellular, was well covered in the Khmer press.

Name withheld on request

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