Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Yale Genocide Program investigated over embezzlement

Yale Genocide Program investigated over embezzlement

Yale Genocide Program investigated over embezzlement

THE US State Department is investigating the Cambodian Genocide Project (CGP) at

Yale University over allegations of embezzlement and/or mismanagement of grant funds,

according to documents seen by the Post.

"We have... received other information regarding this matter and following a

preliminary inquiry, our office has opened an investigation of the CGP," wrote

the State Department's Inspector General Jacquelyn Williams-Bridgers July 2 in response

to an inquiry from US Congressman Tom Campbell.

In a May 5 letter sent to US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Campbell wrote:

"... the basis of the allegations concern its director, who took a leave of

absence in January 1997, right after this project received a two year, $1 million

grant from the Department of State. This director, however, is still receiving his

salary... and continues to exercise fiscal and personnel powers."

The director in question is noted Cambodia scholar Dr. Ben Kier-nan, who was unavailable

for comment at press time and whom sources say is unreachable by phone in either

Ireland or France.

Former CGP Program Manager Craig Etcheson, when asked if he knew of any embezzlement

or mismanagement of CGP funds, replied "No". Etcheson resigned from the

CGP on Dec 1, l997 and declined comment on any aspect of his resignation or of the

CGP.

The CGP was set up in 1994 with an initial grant of $500,000 from the US government.

The program was to collect and study information related to Pol Pot's regime, make

the information available to a tribunal or truth commission willing to prosecute

Cambodian war criminals and generate a critical understanding of genocide.

In 1996 the CGP applied for another $998,361 from the State Department which was

awarded for the period April 1, l997 to Sept 30, 2001. The funds were to be used

by both the CGP and the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam), an entity set

up by the CGP and spun off last year as an independent Phnom Penh-based NGO. Other

funds donated to the CGP include a $250,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation,

two grants totalling $240,087 from the Dutch government, and grants from the Mellon

Foundation, the Open Societies Institute and the Norwegian government.

The CGP and DC-Cam have collected over 100,000 pages of documents on the Khmer Rouge.

Several scholars say the documents are an unparalleled collection of information

on the DK regime, one which will prove to be an invaluable resource for many years

to come. The CGP's 1996 grant request to the State Department says the DC-Cam "now

has the best collection of Khmer Rouge archives in the world". However, there

has been debate whether the CGP has discovered concrete evidence which could be used

to convict surviving Khmer Rouge leaders of crimes against humanity.

Spokespersons at the CGP at Yale and the State Department were not available for

comment.

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