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Minister Called to Parliament Over $750m Graft Claims


Cambodian workers use horse drawn carts for carrying sand to be used for construction through village of Samor Kroam, in Takeo province southwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

The U.N. figures showed that, between 2007 and 2015, Cambodia only reported 2.8 million tons of sand leaving for Singapore, whereas Singapore reported it had imported some 72.8 million tons over the same period.

The minister for mines and energy has been called to appear in parliament to answer questions over alleged massive discrepancies in the volume of sand exports to Singapore, which one NGO claimed reached almost $750 million.

Suy Sem, minister for mines and energy, was due to appear in front of lawmakers on Thursday after being called to attend by Ho Vann, an opposition MP who sits on the assembly’s anti-corruption committee.

Dith Tina, ministry spokesman, denied there had been wrongdoing in the sand export sector. “It appears that nothing strange happened, and the public knows that,” he said.

The figure of almost $750 million came from an analysis of U.N. trade data carried out by local NGO Mother Nature, which it said show that Singapore reported imports of sand with an estimated $747 million more than Cambodia had reported exporting to the island nation.

Vann of the anti-corruption commission said if discrepancies were discovered, “we can file a report to the Anti-Corruption Unit to investigate further and collect more evidence.”

In November, 50 civil society groups wrote to the ministry requesting official data on sand exports be released for scrutiny.

The U.N. figures showed that, between 2007 and 2015, Cambodia only reported 2.8 million tons of sand leaving for Singapore, whereas Singapore reported it had imported some 72.8 million tons over the same period.

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