ACU receives 20K asset declarations

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Motorcyclists ride past the Anti-Corruption Unit headquarters in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

The Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) said it had received nearly 20,000 declarations of assets and liabilities from officials across all ministries and provincial administrations in a period of just 10 days, from January 1 to 10.

According to the ACU announcement released on January 10, only one national institution had completed 100 per cent of these financial declarations thus far, namely the National Election Committee (NEC).

Nine provincial governments had achieved 100 per cent compliance – Oddar Meanchey, Siem Reap, Tbong Khmum, Kampong Chhnang, Kratie, Kampong Cham, Kep, Takeo and Svay Rieng provinces.

Cheng Bun Kheang, chief of the ACU’s assets and liabilities declaration department, said on January 11 that more than 8,000 obligated persons, roughly 30 per cent of the total, had not yet submitted a declaration. But he noted that they still have time to fulfil this obligation.

“According to the Anti-Corruption Law, declarations of assets and liabilities are made every two years. For this year, those who are obliged to file a declaration have a full month, from January 1 to January 31. But for individuals who are busy on a mission or have a serious illness, we can take such reasons for delay under consideration,” he said.

According to Bun Kheang, civil servants who have the duty to declare assets and liabilities are members of the National Assembly, the Senate and title-bearing officials of the government. In general, it applies to persons who have been appointed to their office by sub-decree and royal decree.

Bun Kheang expressed optimism that the declarations will be completed as planned, saying it was possible that the remaining 8,000 will be submitted by the end of this month.

Transparency International Cambodia executive director Pech Pisey said the declaration of assets and liabilities was established by law and is an obligation that relevant institutions and individuals must fulfil.

Pisey said the ACU had performed its role properly and effectively in promoting the process of declaring assets and liabilities.

“I’ve observed this practice to be an effective method for deterring corruption. We welcome the leadership of the ACU and support their efforts to ensure total compliance by those required to submit declarations of assets and liabilities,” he said.

Pisey urged certain reforms of legal norms related to the declaration of assets and liabilities to the public. In many countries, he said, they make these declarations public so that people are aware of any conflicts of interest that government officials may have.

Cambodia began implementing the declaration of assets and liabilities in 2011, with more than 25,000 obligated persons reporting in each of the six filing periods to date.