An official at the Council for the Development of Cambodia ac*cused of soliciting bribes from a Dutch sportswear factory was con*victed of misappropriation of public funds on Friday and sentenced to two years in prison.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Y Thavrak suspended one year of the sentence handed down to 34-year-old Lay Tharoat, deputy director of the council’s planning and analysis bureau, and fined him 6 million riel, or about $1,500.
Lay Tharoat, an official at the Council for the Development of Cambodia, is escorted into the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)Mr. Tharoat, who was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Unit on May 6, did not answer questions from re*porters while being escorted from the courtroom by prison guards.
His lawyer, Keo Vanny, said the penalty was appropriate for the crime, which carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.
“It is suitable because my client confessed to committing the crime,” he said. “I’m not sure yet whether my client is satisfied with this decision, so I will speak to him about whether he will appeal.”
At his trial on Monday, Mr. Tha***roat confessed to asking for bribes from a representative of the Ray*tecs factory in Phnom Penh in or*der to process import applications, but said he did not believe at the time that he was committing a crime.
Authorities said the representative had submitted documents re*questing permission to import a variety of items for production but was repeatedly told by Mr. Tharoat that the forms had been filled in incorrectly. They said he accepted $500 on April 22 to help with the forms and another $400 on May 6, the day he was arrested.
Also during the trial, another lawyer for Mr. Tharoat, Teng Rithi**voan, pleaded with the court for leniency on the basis of her cli*ent’s previously clean criminal re*cord and allegiance to the ruling CPP.
“First, this was his first time,” she said at the time. “Second, he has been a civil servant for more than 12 years, and he has served the par*ty and society a lot.”
Why no action has been taken against the Raytecs factory for paying bribes remains unclear. Anti-Cor*ruption Unit Chairman Om Yentieng could not be reached on Friday.
Reached by telephone, a factory employee who refused to identify himself said he knew nothing about the case.
sovuthy@cambodiadaily.com
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