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Ex-official jailed for forgery

Koy Dara (left), acting bureau director of finance at the Ministry of
Economy and Finance, arrives at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday
where he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun
A FORMER official of the Ministry of
Economy and Finance was sentenced to 10 years in prison yesterday, two
weeks after he pleaded guilty to forging public documents and
embezzling more than US$600,000 to fund a gambling addiction.

Judge Ker Sakhorn also ordered Koy Dara – former acting bureau director
of finance at the Ministry for nearly 20 years – to pay back the
embezzled money in full.

“I have no comment over the court’s
conviction, although we won the case,” said Theng Meng Y, who
represented the Ministry of Finance.

Uk Siroeun, Koy Dara’s
defence lawyer, said he would appeal the sentence, because his client
confessed his guilt from the outset.

“We will appeal the
conviction at the Appeal Court with the hope that the sentence might be
slashed down the minimum,” said Uk Siroeun, adding that his client’s
civilian service deserved consideration.

Under Article 49 of the
UNTAC criminal code, a conviction on charges of forging public
documents is punishable by five to 15 years in prison. Under Article 37
of the law, embezzlement by public officials is a felony punishable by
three to 10 years in prison and a fine of double the sum of money

Koy Dara was arrested and charged in April by the
Ministry of Interior’s internal security police, following suspicion
that he had embezzled state funds between early 2009 and the time of
his arrest. Two weeks ago he admitted to altering cheques and forging
documents, as well as losing the money at Nagaworld casino.

Dara’s conviction comes amid a concerted government campaign to
eradicate graft, which included the passage of the long-awaited Law on
Anticorruption in March.

The Anticorruption Unit – which did
not handle Koy Dara’s case – approved a policy last month requiring
around 100,000 government and military officials to disclose their
assets. Last week, government officials, lawyers and police attended an
anticorruption conference on the declaration of assets.

has also arrested and charged a Pursat provincial prosecutor and two
bodyguards with corruption, extortion, and false imprisonment.

head Om Yentieng has said that the agency is pursuing investigations of
corruption at the Battambang provincial court and the Appeal Court in
Phnom Penh, though he has not yet provided details of the

Hang Chhaya, executive director for the Khmer
Institute for Democracy, said that the government’s anti-graft push was
welcome but should be implemented in a more measured way.

think from the experience of other countries, one would like to see a
proper process – how you empower people, educate the judges and the
legal offense teams and prosecutors,” said Hang Chhaya.

“Otherwise, down the line a few years later, the same problems will just re-emerge.”

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