Cambodia police chief charged with corruption, embezzling over $800,000

Cambodia police chief charged with corruption, embezzling over $800,000
Supporters await the arrival of President of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) Sam Rainsy, outside the Phnom Penh International Airport in Phnom Penh July 19, 2014. Rainsy returns home as Cambodian police arrested two more opposition members.

PHNOM PENH - A Cambodian police chief was Friday charged with corruption and embezzling more than US$650,000 (S$826,000) of state funds, officials said, as part of the kingdom's drive to eradicate high-level graft.

Hy Narin, head of capital Phnom Penh's Meanchey district police force, was the latest official jailed for corruption by Cambodian authorities attempting to clean-up graft in one of the world's most corrupt nations.

"He was charged on three counts including corruption, embezzlement of the state budget and stealing," court official Yim Chetha told AFP

Narin embezzled 2,712,236,000 riel ($665,000) over the past eight years and is being investigated for eight cases of graft, the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), a government agency, said in a statement.

The police chief stands accused of taking salaries from "ghost" or absent employees, extorting money from traffic accident victims and forcing his subordinates to pay for safety jackets and rifle covers - items usually provided for free - the statement said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has previously said that his government will tackle corruption without compromise, calling graft "a dangerous cancer".

But Cambodia remains among the world's most corrupt nations - last year it was ranked 160th out of 177 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index.

Since its inception in 2011, the ACU has arrested dozens of people over graft.

But critics have questioned the effectiveness of a corruption unit which is controlled by the ruling party, which has been in charge of Cambodia for over 30 years.

In 2012 the former chief of Cambodia's anti-drug agency and his aide were sentenced to life in jail for corruption and narcotics trafficking.

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