The Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) uncovered that Pursat provincial Department of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction director Liem Bunroeun illegally acquired more than $400,000 through corruption during his three-year tenure.
A notice dated July 30, from the 48th meeting of the National Council’s 2nd mandate against corruption, said the ACU investigation uncovered that since 2016, Bunroeun had provided 140 illegal services, receiving about $384,000 through bribes in the process.
The total amount did not include a previous case that Bunroeun was being investigated for, in which he received more than $20,000 in bribes, found stashed in envelopes in his office on July 27.
Bunroeun was arrested for corruption on July 27 with two other senior officials from his department after the three were caught in a sting operation where they allegedly demanded a $100,000 bribe from a landowner in exchange for issuing a construction permit.
Cheang Vuthy, the Pursat provincial Department of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction deputy-director, and Tea Bun Theng, an administrative official in charge of the department’s One-Window services, were the two other officials allegedly involved.
On July 31, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge ordered the three be detained in Prey Sar prison on charges of misappropriation of public funds under the Criminal Code, abuse of power under the Anti-Corruption Law, and money laundering under the Laws on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing for Terrorism.
“Overall, after searching Bunroeun’s office, we have seen that he has used ill-gotten money to repair a house for $40,000 and bought two houses for $168,000 and $72,000 [respectively], as well as land for $44,000.
“He also constructed a swallow house for $40,000 and bought a Lexus 570 and a Kia Picanto with his ill-gotten money,” the ACU said.
Transparency International Cambodia Executive Director Preap Kol said that departments such as the one run by Bunroeun are easy places in which to commit corruption.
“These institutions are lucrative places as they mostly sign or process property documents containing a substantial amount of money. It is an easy place to commit corruption,” he said.
Kol supported the ACU’s move to investigate Bunroeun. He said it was the right thing to do and that he wanted to see the effective implementation of similar action at other institutions to reduce and prevent corruption in Cambodia.
Though some measures were being taken, Kol said, there was still a lack of action in tackling corruption.