Banteay Meanchey Resident Files Corruption Complaint Against Commerce Ministry Officials

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Barbed wire has been wrapped around a gate closing off trains tracks crossing Poipet’s international border with Thailand. (Ananth Baliga/VOD)
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Three Commerce Ministry officials have been accused of corruption by a Banteay Meanchey transport company owner for asking her to pay informal fees to transport goods across the border.

Horm Kimvong, 38, filed a complaint with the Anti-Corruption Unit on Thursday accusing three officials from the Commerce Ministry’s consumer protection competition and fraud repression department for making her pay informal fees at the border and threatening to seize her vehicles if she didn’t make the payments. Kimvong runs a transportation service for goods from Thailand.

The three officials she has accused are San Vichea Saravuth, Chhoun PIsey and “Keo,” with Saravuth heading the department’s border outpost in Banteay Meanchey. The Commerce Ministry department used to be called CAMCONTROL until it was renamed in 2020.

Kimvong told VOD that in the past she would pay 150,000 riel, around $37.5 a month, to get her vehicles in from Thailand, but that in April the three accused started asking for $20 a truck and then nearly doubled it to $37.5. She did not get a receipt for these transactions, her complaint alleges. “Keo” was in charge of collecting the bribes, she said, adding that she lived in Poipet city.

“If I don’t pay, they will seize my truck and send it to the provincial court,” she said.

She said the bribes were paid by placing the money on the roof of the car, throwing the money at the officers or by placing it on a table used by the officials.

Kimvong said that in July she didn’t have much money to pay the officials, so she asked to pay them close to $90 for six incoming vehicles, but the officials seized her trucks and made her pay $500 instead.

“They told me that If I don’t [pay] they will file a complaint to the court to arrest me and I will be in the prison from a month to six months,” Kimvong alleged. “Normally, as a citizen, if I have no money to pay, and if it goes to court, I can only cry since I don’t have money to pay.”

She said she had been summoned to clarify her complaint at the local police station on October 1 and has not been contacted by the ACU.

Om Yentieng, who heads the ACU, did not reply to questions from a reporter.

“I am sorry, I do not know you and this is a new number. Please use a VOD number, and I have 20 VOD numbers [stored]. … People have cheated me many times,” he said on the telephone.

Commerce Ministry spokesperson Seng Thai could not be reached for comment.

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