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World Bank Clarifies Role in Corruption Court Case

The World Bank issues a statement Thursday in a response to articles in local newspapers speculating about its country manager going on leave as a possible reason to avoid going to a court hearing on its corruption charges against a government official.

The bank says that its country manager, Ms. Nisha Agrawal left for a vacation before the Phnom Municipal Court issued an invitation for her participation at a hearing on the case.

Court officials say that Ms. Agrawal is invited to clarify on the bank's corruption charges.

The World Bank says that it supports the Cambodian government's efforts to officially investigate the misuse of funds worth millions of dollars in a number of major projects.

The statement is made after the Phnom Penh Municipal Court invited Ms. Nisha Agrawal on Tuesday to participate in the hearing. She did not attend. In a press release Thursday, the World Bank says it received the court's invitation on Monday.

Cambodia World Bank spokesman, Mr. Bou Saroeun says that Ms. Agrawal is on leave, and will return next week. He says that a legal discussion is under way to deal with the issue.

He says that he is waiting to discuss about the World Bank rules dealing with Cambodian legal procedures, when a bank's personnel goes to clarify in a deposition hearing in a Cambodian court.

Phnom Penh Court's investigative judge, honorable Chiv Keng cannot be reached for comment.

Late May, disbursement of World Bank funding has been suspended for the Ministry of Land Mangement's $24.3 million Land Management and Administration project; the Ministry of Rural Development and the Ministry of Public Works and Transport's $20 million Provincial and Rural Infrastructure project; and the Ministry of Industry's $19.9 million Provincial and Peri-Urban Water and Sanitation project.

The bank also says that there are irregularities in its 43 projects with 5 ministries: the Ministry of Rural Development; the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction; the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy; the Ministry of Planning, and the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

The Cambodian authorities arrested Funcinpec party official, Mr. Muo Kim San, former provincial and rural infrastructure project director, charged of embezzling $800,000 but his lawyer, Mr. Huy Sukunthea says that his client is not alone in this scandal, as there are many other officials who are also involved, and that 12 other officials will appear in court.