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No graft found in assets probe of officers

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Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) head Om Yentieng. Supplied

No graft found in assets probe of officers

Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) head Om Yentieng said on Friday that an investigation into the assets of Ratanakkiri Military Police commander Kim Reaksmey and Kandal provincial police deputy Sreng Sokha revealed no evidence of corruption.

However, he said that Reaksmey remains under investigation for his alleged involvement in forestry crimes.

During a press conference on Friday, Yentieng said the ACU had probed Reaksmey’s assets, including his homes, cars and savings, as well as assets belonging to his wife and five children.

He said that the ACU concluded that his assets were not the result of corruption, also claiming that five cheques Reaksmey had given to each of his children – totalling $500,000 – at a birthday party were worthless.

“After we checked [and verified] all their assets, nothing was found which related to corruption. Regarding the $500,000 [in cheques], he did not have enough money in his bank to cover that."

“If they had attempted to cash the cheque, it would have bounced. This is a show-off of wealth. His wrongdoing was showing off his wealth, so the government terminated his position,” Yentieng said.

Yentieng said Reaksmey was from a poor family who owned a rubber plantation.

Reaksmey claimed he had accumulated his wealth from growing his family’s plantation with the help of his business savvy second wife – the younger sister of Kun Kim, deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

Pen Bunna, the local community empowerment programme officer at rights group Adhoc, said most people, including himself, were not satisfied with the ACU’s investigation.

Bunna said Reaksmey has played an important role in the deforestation of Ratanakkiri province since 2010. He claimed that over a 10-day period in the province, some 260 trucks were allowed to transport 100 tonnes of timber to Vietnam for a fee of $23,000 per truck.

“Those figures were for 10 days only, therefore $500,000 is not that much for him to earn if we compare it with clearing the entire forest. Look at his personal assets, he has many houses. It is unbelievable that he does not have $500,000 in the bank,” he said.

Bunna claimed that finding evidence of Reaksmey’s corruption and involvement in forestry crimes would not be difficult as there are many witnesses able to testify.

“It is not very difficult because there are many journalists who work on the issue and can testify and meet with the ACU to help find clues and evidence to support the charges against Reaksmey and others,” he said.

Preap Kol, the executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said giving worthless cheques to his own children at a birthday party is strange and hard to believe.

“The father gave the children cheques and told everybody at the party. If those cheques are worthless then the father lied to his children in public, which is hard for everybody to believe. I’m not denying the ACU’s findings, it’s just very strange,” Kol said.

According to Yentieng, the ACU is still investigating Reaksmey over allegedly receiving a bribe from Huo Chivai, a known perpetrator of forestry crimes.

“As for the forestry crimes, our investigation is focused on Huo Chivai, who a journalist has claimed is the mastermind behind forestry crimes and is able to pay off any officer. When we asked Reaksmey, he claimed that Chivai is poor and does not have money,” he said.

The other ACU investigation centred on Kandal provincial deputy police chief Sokha, who it was claimed gave his fiance $100,000 in cash, lavish diamond jewellery and a Lexus 570 worth $220,000 at their engagement party.

But Yentieng said that like Reaksmey, this was another instance of gratuitous and misleading displays of wealth rather than corruption.

“His watch was fake and had no value, while the car belonged to someone else. He took a picture of the car and posted it, which created a misunderstanding. He just took a picture to show off. When asked about the diamond watch, Sokha said it was fake and only worth $25,” he said.

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