ACU demands asset filings from ex-CNRP officials

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A motorbike passes in front of the Anti-Corruption Unit headquarters in Phnom Penh. The unit has ordered all former CNRP elected officials to declare their assets or face punishment. Pha Lina

All lawmakers and commune officials with the now-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party need to declare their assets this month or face punishment of up to one year in prison.

According to a letter by the Anti-Corruption Unit, signed on Friday, the body will notify previous members of parliament and commune officials of the requirement, with filing to be done through either the ACU or representatives in each commune. The exact deadline, however, remains unclear.

Cheng Bun Kheang, chief of the Asset Declaration Department of the ACU, said that the officials had 30 days to declare their assets after leaving office. He was waiting for exact instructions regarding the deadline, he said, since it is unclear if the period begins when the CNRP was dissolved in a widely condemned decision by the Supreme Court on November 16, or when the new lawmakers who received the party’s redistributed seats were sworn in last week.

The Anti-Corruption Law stipulates that lawmakers and public officials have to file reports at the beginning and middle of their terms and 30 days before leaving office. If that is not possible, Article 18 stipulates, they must do so within thirty days after leaving. Failure to do so carries a penalty of one month to one year in prison, and fines of up to 2 million riel (about $500).

Bun Kheang added that officials could submit the documents “one or two days” late, and that they had already received some submissions, but he didn’t know how many.Several CNRP officials yesterday said that they were still waiting for notifications, however.

Yim Phally, former chief of Siem Reap province’s Kokchak commune, said she hadn’t been to the commune hall since her last day at work on November 16.

“After I got elected, I already declared [my assets]. But after the dissolution, I haven’t done it because I did not get a notification. Now, I am an ordinary person,” she said, adding she didn’t know where to pick up the form.

Sin Rozeth, former CNRP chief of O’Char commune in Battambang, said she believed doing so was unnecessary. “I already declared it when I was the deputy commune chief,” she said, adding her declaration was valid for two years,

Mu Sochua, former deputy opposition leader, and former lawmaker Son Chhay said they had already declared assets after the dissolution. “All my colleagues [in parliament] have done it,” Sochua said.

Additional reporting by Leonie Kijewski