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Group Files 90 Claims With Anti-Corruption Unit

General Department of Taxation of Cambodia.
General Department of Taxation of Cambodia.

A watchdog organization issued 90 complaints representing thousands of people to the nascent Anti-Corruption Unit on Thursday, claiming tax agents for the Ministry of Finance have been overcharging for annual vehicle stickers.

The complaints come from 2,700 people across 14 provinces and constitute the first real test of the ACU, which was established under a new anti-corruption law that was hailed as a breakthrough by the administration but lambasted as toothless by the opposition.

The Affiliated Network for Social Accountability In East Asia and the Pacific, which helped collect and file the complaints, says 2.5 million vehicles are registered in Cambodia, and each collection can be overcharged by as much as $0.50 each time, each year.

Kampong Cham province had the most complaints, 18, followed by Takeo with 17, and Phnom Penh, Kandal and Prey Veng with nine each.

The complaints included tax agents working out of uniform, to dissuade identification, said San Chey, a project coordinator for the Affiliated Network. They also included commune clerks, police, children of tax agents, village chiefs, deputy village chiefs and others.

San Chey said his organization wants the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the ACU to open investigations into the alleged corruption.

Om Yentiang, head of the ACU, said the unit welcomed complaints and would review them.

And Om John, deputy chief of the legal department for the Ministry of Finance's tax department, said tax agents are required to respect the law.