Cambodian Messenger to S Korea Charged With Corruption

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 3:58 PM

Suth Dina appeared at Phnom Penh Municipal Ct to hear charges of embezzlement, which carries a prison duration of two to five years, and abuse of power, punishable by a five- to 10-year term.

Cambodia'south ambassador to S Korea was charged Thursday with corruption-related offenses, with investigators saying his assets increased by $3 million during his two years as envoy.

Suth Dina appeared at Phnom Penh Municipal Ct to hear charges of embezzlement, which carries a prison duration of two to five years, and abuse of power, punishable by a five- to 10-year term.

The ambassador, who was arrested Monday, has denied any wrongdoing. "My arrest is unjust," he said to reporters as he entered the court.

Cambodia has a reputation as one of Asia'south most corrupt countries. The problem is a political liability for long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen, whose Cambodian People'south Party fended off an unexpectedly powerful challenge in the two thousand thirteen general election.

Suth Dina used to be an opponent of Hun Sen'south government, but joined the ruling party in 2009.

A statement from the government'south Anti-Corruption Unit said an investigation had found that Suth Dina had $7.2 million in cash — an expand from $4.2 million when his ambassadorial appointment began in February two thousand fourteen — and almost thirteen kilograms (twenty-nine pounds) of gold, worth about $500.000.

The head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Om Yentieng, said at a news conference that Suth Dina had embezzled $180.000 from the embassy in Seoul, while the source of his other assets wasn't yet clear, but they could be seized if found to be illegally gained.

The ACU sent investigators in March to S Korea, where thousands of Cambodians work. Suth Dina was chastised soon after taking up his work by then-Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, who declared he should stop allowing his relatives to interfere with the embassy's affairs.

Latest year, Suth Dina played a prominent role in warning Cambodian workers in Korea to stay far from meetings held by Cambodian opposition leaders, or risk losing their jobs and being repatriated.

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