Three officials from the Pursat provincial Cadastral Survey Department are being questioned by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) after they were arrested on Sunday on suspicion of conspiring to commit corruption by demanding $100,000 from a landowner in exchange for issuing a construction permit.
ACU chief Om Yentieng could not be reached for comment, but speaking to the Thmey Thmey daily on Sunday, he said: “The case involves a demand for $100,000 and questioning is ongoing.
“They demanded money from a citizen in exchange for resolving a land issue and providing a construction permit. We arrested so we could question them and check the evidence.”
Fresh News reported on Sunday that the three men are high ranking officials from the provincial Cadastral Survey Department.
The report said the suspects were arrested at Moha Leap restaurant in Pursat town on Sunday after they had made an appointment to meet the landowner and be handed the money.
“The source suggested that one of the cadastral officials demanded 50 per cent of the $100,000 as a deposit before issuing a construction permit.
“On Friday, the land owner paid a deposit of $5,000 at a room at the provincial Cadastral Survey Department and on Sunday morning gave them $45,000 more at Moha Leap restaurant where the ACU arrested the officials,” Fresh News said.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan supported the ACU’s actions and also those of the Committee for Prevention and Crackdown on Natural Resource Crimes which he said have been actively clamping down on any irregularities that damage the government’s reputation.
“We encourage the public to cooperate with the ACU and the Committee for Prevention and Crackdown on Natural Resource Crimes.
“We all work together for the happiness and prosperity of the nation through cooperation and comprehensive implementation of Samdech Techo Prime Minister’s policies,” Siphan said.
Pursat provincial governor Mao Thonin said briefly on Sunday: “I have heard about the arrests but I don’t have any new details. If you want to have clear information, please ask those who made the arrests.”
San Chey, the executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said that although this case involves $100,000, any money demanded that is more than official administrative service fees should also be considered as corruption.
“I think the procedure is complicated with regard to applying for construction permits, even for people asking for permission to build a small house or apartment.
“The law sets the service fees but the procedure is still complicated and some people don’t know which level of authority to go to or where to obtain an application form.
“The formalities are also difficult, so it’s an opportunity for officers to demand money,” he said.