Fraud? International Cooperation for Transparency – Sunday, 25.4.2010

Posted on 26 April 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 661 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 661

Cambodia entered into many different international relations since the new Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia was promulgated in 1993 and a new phase of history for the country began. International integration was one of the main policy goals of the government – regaining the seat for Cambodia in the United Nations, which had been held by a representative of the Khmer Rouge until 1991, long after the Khmer Rouge had lost their grip on the country, establishing new diplomatic relations, gaining membership in ASEAN, in the World Trade Organization [WTO], etc., and entering into many bilateral agreements – with other governments, with international organizations like the Asia Development Bank, and with Non-Government Organizations through the Ministry of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Some of these agreements have consequences in detail, which were not all foreseen or discussed with those who are affected – for example: the membership in the WTO will require that copyrights of international companies for computer software will have to be enforced from 2013 onward, and the import of goods and services from other countries has to be liberalized. Though this may have difficult consequences for some sections of the Cambodian economy, other sectors welcome it.

During the past week, a five-year Accountability in Governance and Politics program, financed by the USA, was inaugurated by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and the US Ambassador Carol A. Rodley, according to which the Cambodian government will cooperate, implementing specific projects, with the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems. According to the nature of this program, international transparency will be necessarily be enhanced, even when this may relate to difficult challenges to be faced internationally.

What this can mean can be deducted from a difficult processes developing at present in the USA. Goldman Sachs – a full-service global investment banking and securities firm – one of the top financial institutions of the USA, is facing at present charges by the US Securities and Exchange Commission [“The mission of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation”] of fraudulently having contributed to the wide breakdown of financial systems, by systematically entering into contract with people and companies who were supposed not to be able to pay back what they borrowed. To give a small-scale example: one internal e-mail, now leaked, says “I’ve managed to sell bonds to widows and orphans” making “some serious money” for the bank; one section manager made a profit of $1 billion for the bank – but then the whole system collapsed and needed much higher government assistance. The future will show how this will be handled.

Once international government agencies get involved, the chance of achieving real transparency is higher. Repeated corruption allegations raised, for example, by the non-government agency Global Witness in the UK were easily dismissed here as not coming from a government agency, without dealing with their specific documentations. They had also raised questions related to the role of the – then – head of the Forestry Department, Mr. Ty Sokun, which were quickly and strongly rejected as “nonsense” and “lies” at that time, but recently he was removed from his position. The situation will be different in a case which is receiving ever more prominence recently.

The Australian Company BHP Billiton – “the world’s largest diversified natural resources company” – entered into a mineral exploration agreement with the Cambodian government in 2006 to explore for bauxite in Mondolkiri – unprocessed aluminum ore; parts of the exploration site, a 996-hectare mining concession, were in protected natural forest areas. It had also been announced that this was just for exploration, a decision could be found only later, as the transport of bauxite, or the production of aluminum which requires huge amounts of electricity, need further studies. But this plan was abandoned in 2009 because the studies had shown that bauxite mining in Mondolkiri would not be cost-effective.

But recently, during this month of April 2010, BHP Billiton announced that United States Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating corruption allegations which may relate to Cambodia, though this is not yet sure.

According to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of the USA, a company which has made illegal payments, can be fined to pay “up to twice the benefit that it sought to obtain by making a corrupt payment,” and staff involved may have to serve five years in prison.

Neither the US Securities and Exchange Commission nor BHP Billiton has stated that there were actually illegal payments. But the present investigations are based on some reports dating back to 2007.

According to various sources on the Internet, the Minister of Water Resources Lim Kean Hor had reported in the National Assembly at that time that the Prime Minister had informed him from Australia that BHP had paid US$2.5 million as “tea money” for the concession. BHP said, however, that this money was designated for a “social development fund” for health and education projects in Mondolkiri. According to other sources, BHP confirmed to have paid US$1 million to the government in 2006 to secure the concession agreement.

Later inquiries produced various incongruous pieces of information: that the money was not used, as designated, for health and education in Mondolkiri, but for irrigation in Pursat, and the records of the the Ministry of Economy and Finance show for 2006 only US$443,866 as income from mining concessions.

By Saturday, not only the US Securities and Exchange Commission was dealing with the BHP case, but also the UK Serious Fraud Office [“an independent Government department that investigates and prosecutes serious or complex fraud, and corruption. We are part of the UK criminal justice system”].

A “social development fund” of the Cambodian government had also been mentioned before, in relation to substantial payments from Caltex, having obtained the right for off-shore oil exploration. While one government argument, why an NGO law is urgently needed, was the request to gain more transparency about social and development funds (which are, for NGOs, regularly audited by public auditing companies anyway), we have not seen any similar reporting so far about the government’s social development fund – its purpose, its administrative arrangements and it’s oversight bodies, and its assets and disbursements.

The Cambodia Daily carried on 24/25.4.2010 an article, “Precise Meaning of ‘Tea Money’ Up for Debate.” And Mr. Phay Siphan, the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, is quoted to have pointed to the new anti-corruption legislation which shows that the government is committed to “highlight transparency.” – He will surely be able to shed more light onto this affair.

Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

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Wednesday, 3.9.2008: Election Results Announced by the NEC Are Absolutely Not Accepted by the Opposition Parties

Posted on 4 September 2008. Filed under: Week 576 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 576

“Mr. Sam Rainsy, the president of the Sam Rainsy Party [SRP], said publicly on the Ponleu Ploeng Tien [Light of Candle – the logo of the SRP] program [on the Sambok Khmum Radio of Mr. Mam Sonando], ‘Today, we would like to announce again that the Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party do not recognize the election results as publicly announced by the National Election Committee – NEC – on 2 September 2008.’

“Mr. Sam Rainsy added, ‘We have received more evidence and more witnesses, which show that the election results are based on many fraudulent votes, different from previous elections, because the names of many citizens were removed [from the voter lists]; when they wanted to vote they could not vote, as their names were deleted and stolen, in an attempt to prevent them from voting. This is the fist problem.’

“The well-known opposition party leader continued, ‘The second problem is that Forms 1018 were issued illegally, because many Form 1018 documents were fraudulent and were provided to those who were ineligible to vote, such as the Vietnamese, underage children, and those who did not have their names in the voters lists at districts and at many poling stations; they provided fraudulent names for such people, to vote for the Cambodian People’s Party.’

“Therefore, out of the tens of thousands of votes claimed to have been received by the Cambodian People’s Party, at least 500,000 votes were from ‘unreal’ votes which are called ghost votes, using ghost names to vote. Moreover, at least more than one million citizens’ names had been deleted from the voters lists, stolen, and the people had been prevented to vote.

“These are the reasons why the votes of the opposition parties declined, since those who wanted to vote for the opposition parties could not vote. On the contrary, those who did not have names to vote were helped by getting Forms 1018 illegally to vote.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy emphasized, ‘The election results were turned around and do not reflect fairness at all, they present the citizens’ will entirely distorted, and therefore we would like to announce again the position of the SRP and of the Human Rights Party to be still against the bad activities of the Cambodian People’s Party, implemented through the NEC and through the Constitutional Council, that serve the Cambodian People’s Party.’

“He went on to say, ‘After this, I have the further information that I, Sam Rainsy, will travel to protest in front of the international community on this Wednesday. I will go to Europe, to Paris and Brussels, and to America, to New York and Washington, in order to announce our complaints about the stealing of votes. Also, I have much evidence, as I have mentioned earlier, and I have revealed this evidence on a website [not identified here] and by other means on the Internet; we use modern technology to let the world see: if anyone wants to see, they can see.’

“The evidence shows that the elections in Cambodia were not held correctly, because we have received thumbprints of tens of thousands of citizens who had expressed their dissatisfaction with the NEC that had deleted their names.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy continued that tens of thousands of citizens had made motions with thumbprints, and the numbers are increasing further day-by-day. Not only the Sam Rainsy Party, but also the Human Rights Party is conducting a campaign to collect thumbprints to show the international community that the Cambodian People’s Party, through the NEC as a tools, had deleted many citizens’ names who were eligible to vote. Those thumbprints are published on our website where people from any country can see.’

“In the meantime, Mr. Sam Rainsy asked, ‘If anyone has evidence of fraud using Form 1018, please bring them to me directly at the headquarters of the Sam Rainsy Party. Also, I would like to remind that as for those who had came from near and far places, I would like to express gratitude from all my heart, and for those who bring one sheet of paper of a fraudulent Form 1018, we will present an award of US$50 to them, corresponding to Riel 200,000.’…

“Obviously, even a working group official of the Cambodian People’s Party in Kompong Cham said publicly, in a the Ponleu Ploeng Tien program, that the elections of 27 July 2008 had many irregularities, such as intimidations, human rights abuses, and fraud using the Form 1018, creating ghost names.

“Regarding the fraudulently used Form 1018, the official continued to say that there were many such cases – village and commune chiefs met three or four days ahead of the elections to plan for the creations of Form 1018 ghost names, and other cases.

“The official of the Cambodian People’s Party said, ‘A special case was that on 17 July 2008, Mr. Ouk Bunchhoeun, a high ranking official of the Cambodian People’s Party, went to strengthen the party’s affairs in Memut [Kompong Cham] and ordered lower officials to create fraudulent Forms 1018 and other cases.’

“This means that imposters of the Cambodian People’s Party and of the NEC start to become known gradually. Therefore, the international community will absolutely not recognize the election results.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #235, 3.9.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 3 September 2008


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1736, 3.8.2008

  • No Norodom Ranariddh Party in the Fourth Term Government [according to an official close to Prince Norodom Ranariddh, and a Cambodian People’s Party spokesperson affirmed that the fourth term government will be a coalition government between two parties, the Cambodian People’s Party and Funcinpec]
  • India Asks to Create a Bank in Cambodia to Facilitate Investments from India
  • Siam [Thailand] Is Under a State of Emergency
  • Siam Secretly Puts a New Border Marker 200 m into Khmer Land [Banteay Ampil, Oddar Meanchey]


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #235, 3.8.2008

  • Election Results Announced by the NEC Are Absolutely Not Accepted by the Opposition Parties
  • The Sam Rainsy Party Asks Samdech Euv [the former King] to Be President in the Negotiations with Siam [Thailand over territorial issue]


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3503, 3.8.2008

  • Khmer Rouge Tribunal Has Only Money Left Enough for the Trial of Former Tuol Sleng Prison Chief Duch
  • Citizens Criticize Traffic Police for Using the Law to Do Business Shamelessly [police extort money from people whose motorcycles have no wing mirrors for safety and those who do not wear safety helmets – Phnom Penh – ???]


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4684, 3.8.2008

  • Thailand Declares State of Emergency in Bangkok
  • Japanese Prime Minister [Fukuda] Surprisingly Resigns [reason not mentioned]


Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3400, 3.8.2008

  • Norodom Ranariddh Party Urges that a Royal Government Should Be Created Very Soon [in order to lead the country toward development]
  • Click here to have a look at the last editorial – will the Prime Minister’s concern for the environment continue to be violated?

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