Kratie health official under ACU probe over alleged corruption

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Health workers collect specimens for Covid-19 testing in Kratie province. KRATIE PROVINCE ADMINSTRATION

The Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) is investigating the administration chief of the Kratie provincial health department for allegedly demanding between $10,000 and $13,000 from volunteer staff and contract workers in exchange for sending their names to the Ministry of Health to incorporate them into the state employment framework.

Kratie deputy provincial governor Pen Linat confirmed to The Post on July 28 that ACU officials were in the province investigating the allegations, but he declined to elaborate on the case beyond saying that it involved alleged corruption after some volunteers and contract workers had posted their complaints to Facebook.

“I don’t know how far along the investigation is. I just know that ACU officials came to investigate in the province. Whether the complaint about the demand for money is true or not, I have no idea. I just saw that some healthcare workers posted the complaint on Facebook,” he said.

According to the complaint posted on Facebook under the account name “Protecting Peace”, the official now under investigation is Ty Bunleng.

It alleged that Bunleng had demanded between $10,000 and $13,000 from 129 volunteers and contract workers, promising to send their names to the ministry for inclusion in the state framework without having to go through the official recruitment process.

The Post tried to contact Bunleng for comment on the allegations, but his phone went unanswered.

Provincial health department director Chhneang Vutha declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation.

“Let the ACU do their work. I cannot say anything about this,” he said. ACU president Om Yentieng could not be reached for comment.

ACU deputy president Nuon Bophall said he was not sure whether there was an investigation on the case because investigators have to keep their cases confidential until the investigation is completed.

“I am not sure about this because only the investigator who is assigned to the case can know the details. When there is a complaint or suspicion of corruption it is the senior minister [Yentieng] who directly assigns judicial police officials to investigate.

“So only [Yentieng] and the officials he has assigned would know about each case. And even if we know who are handling the case, they will not tell us about it because it is against the law to reveal anything related to a case under investigation,” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen recently encouraged the recruitment of healthcare volunteers and contract workers who have been involved in the fight against Covid-19 into the state employment framework.

Thim Horn, a provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said he had not heard about this case but believed that the ACU’s investigation would find the truth of the matter.

“This is a new case happening in Kratie province. We don’t know if an official complaint has been filed. But according to the law, both bribers and bribe takers are accountable for the crime.

“If the ACU is investigating the case that’s a good sign that they will find out the truth and prevent corruption from happening in state institutions,” he said.