Ten Kampong Speu police officers have been temporarily suspended after one officer took an improper fine and got the offender to send it to their personal bank account.
The incident occurred on January 14 when Lok Kea and another person were driving from Kandal to Sihanoukville on National Road 4 in a goods truck. They were stopped in Kampong Speu for having too much cargo, but police officers soon found that the driver did not have a license, said Kea.
“I have a license but I was sleeping at the time. So I asked my employee to drive the truck and that is when the police stopped us,” Kea said.
The man said the police asked him to pay a $300 fine but because he didn’t have money he negotiated down to $200 and asked his wife to pay it directly to one of the officer’s personal ABA Bank accounts. The officer was named Khem Sothearith.
However, Kea said he was suspicious when the police only took a photo of handing over a ticket for the fine but didn’t actually give him the receipt. He posted it to Facebook on January 16, and it has since garnered around 5,000 shares and 500 comments.
Commenters mostly criticized the police for their conduct but also found fault in the driver’s decision to drive the vehicle without a license.
Kea added that he had at one point taken a photo of the police talking to the driver to share with his wife and was forced to delete the photo.
“I am so disappointed with his aggressive act. I did nothing wrong by just taking a picture and sending it to my wife,” he said.
Nhim Sao, the Kampong Speu provincial deputy police chief, saw the post an hour after it was posted and invited Kea for a meeting on January 17. He said the police officials on duty were at fault because they agreed to lower the fine from the mandated $300 and that the entire team of traffic police officers were suspended indefinitely.
“This does not represent all traffic police. It is just an individual or a small group’s act. We carefully observe inappropriate behaviors and misconduct of the traffic police,” Sao said.
Sao said they returned Kea’s money and apologized to him even though Kea was at fault for allowing an unlicensed driver to drive the vehicle.
The deputy police chief added that there was no official method to pay fines digitally, but that it was accepted practice for officers to accept digital payments with their personal accounts and to later transfer it to the provincial administration.