Anonymous Letter Leads to Investigation of Siem Reap Police Official for Corruption

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A traffic police officer in Phnom Penh on September 15, 2020. (VOD)

A Siem Reap district police official is under investigation by provincial supervisors after an anonymous letter alleged he was extorting illegal gambling establishments and his subordinates.

Teng Channath, Siem Reap provincial police chief, said that he had received an anonymous letter with accusations against Bakong Prasat district police chief Lim Sambath. The provincial chief said he had formed a disciplinary committee to investigate the allegations.

“I did not receive the anonymous letter, but I got it from a journalist. Regarding this problem, we have already informed the district police chief to clarify before the committee. Also, we have set up a team to investigate it,” he said.

The anonymous letter has an unnamed thumbprint on it, and was addressed to the Siem Reap provincial police chief, Interior Ministry and National Police. The letter alleges that Sambath was divisive with his colleagues and corrupt when it came to his job.

According to the letter, Sambath took the position in 2019 and had no plan to crack down on thefts and robberies in the district. He allegedly took $200 to $300 from people running illegal gambling in exchange for the perpetrator’s release.

He additionally charged nine police post officers $125 and would even make officers pay for telecommunications equipment such as walkie-talkies, often charging higher than market prices.

VOD called a phone number for Sambath but the person who picked up denied being the Bakong Prasat police officer and claimed to be a farmer.

A resident of Bakong Prasat, who wished to remain anonymous, said he and others were caught playing the fishing game and that Sambath had demanded $2,500 in return for their release.

“I was wrong that I played. In my opinion, if he just told me, ‘You are playing the game, it is wrong, so please stop,’ I would have stopped. But no one told me,” he said.

On October 11, Interior Minister Sar Kheng spoke to provincial authorities and relevant officials and asked them to pay more attention, check, and resolve any anonymous letters and complaints received because some could be true.

“Before we were never considered anonymous letters, but now the anonymous letters can be counted as the story is true. Some might not dare to reveal their name since they are fearful of their security. So, we should look at the problem, consider whether it is true or not! If it is true, that means they are right,” he said.

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