The Anti-Corruption Unit on Monday ordered the arrest and imprisonment of a former Preah Vihear province tax official who was convicted in absentia in December and sentenced to three years in prison for exploiting his position for personal gain.
According to the ACU’s announcement, former provincial tax director Chea Sophal, 44, engaged in corrupt practices such as failing to stamp tax invoices, which allowed him to pocket revenues intended for the state. The alleged corruption occurred from 2009 until 2012, when Sophal was removed from his post pending an investigation.
Monday’s missive ordered authorities to arrest Sophal and also encouraged the public to provide information about his whereabouts “as soon as possible” by contacting the ACU.
An arrest warrant filed by Preah Vihear Provincial Court Judge Sao Ponlork in mid-January said that Sophal had been convicted under the section of the penal code regarding “unlawful exploitation” of a public office, as well as Article 32 of the anti-corruption law.
“[The court] instructs all competent agencies at all levels to seek the arrest of Chea Sophal, male, 44 years old, and to hand him over to the Preah Vihear Provincial Court to take legal action,” the warrant reads.
In December of 2012, following an investigation into Sophal’s case, ACU chairman Om Yentieng told the <i>Post</i> that Sophal and another allegedly corrupt official had been arrested, and that he was
“driving them to the Preah Vihear Provincial Court” as he spoke.
However, yesterday, Chhay Savuth, deputy chairman of the ACU, said that Sophal had never been arrested, and then declined to comment further.
Yentieng could not be reached for comment.