Asia/Pacific

Cambodia: New US sanctions ‘politically motivated’

The Cambodian government has called the recent sanctions imposed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury on two senior defense officials for corruption allegations “politically motivated,” The Associated Press reports

The Director-General of the Cambodian Defense Ministry’s Material and Technical Services Department, Chau Phirun (Chau), and Royal Cambodian Navy Commander Tea Vinh (Tea), were sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for “using their political influence and official power for personal benefit.”

Dismissing the claims, a government spokesperson told the AP that “the sanctions imposed by the U.S. government were made unilaterally and their decision was not based on the rule of law — it is an injustice for Cambodia.”

The spokesperson added that “These sanctions were politically motivated, and it is not the position of Cambodia to talk with the U.S. on this matter,” as per the AP.

The statement from the Treasury Department says that in 2020 and 2021, Chau and Tea “conspired to profit from activities regarding the construction and updating of Ream Naval Base facilities,” and “likely conspired to inflate the cost of facilities at Ream Naval Base and personally benefit from the proceeds.”

The Cambodian government and the Cambodian Embassy in D.C. did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

A State Department spokesperson told The Hill, “Recent developments in Cambodia like systemic corruption, transnational organized crime, and human rights abuses threaten both U.S. national security interests and the human rights and fundamental freedoms of people in Cambodia. U.S. officials have regularly raised these concerns with Cambodia’s leaders, but regrettably there have been no meaningful changes. The United States remains committed to the Cambodian people and their aspirations for a peaceful, prosperous, democratic, and equitable future.”

The official added that Wednesday’s action sends a strong signal that the United States stands with all Cambodians working to promote accountability and transparency in their government.
 
“Public designations under authorities such as this promote accountability for government officials who engage in corruption or perpetrate human rights violations and abuses, and support efforts to disrupt or deter future abuse and combat impunity. The United States will continue to use all tools available to combat corruption and promote respect for human rights globally,” the statement added.
 
The State Department also told The Hill that Chau and Tea planned to share funds skimmed from the Ream Naval Base Project.

The sanctions will limit both Chau and Tea, along with their immediate family members, from entering the U.S., in accordance with U.S. laws aimed at officials of foreign governments who “have been involved, directly or indirectly, in significant corruption, including corruption related to the extraction of natural resources, or a gross violation of human rights.”

In June, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman expressed concern over China’s military presence at the Ream Naval Base and sought clarification on the demolition of U.S.-funded buildings, the State Department said.

She also urged Cambodia’s leadership to “maintain an independent and balanced foreign policy, in the best interests of the Cambodian people.”

Sherman also cautioned the country’s government and said that a Chinese military base in Cambodia would “undermine its sovereignty, threaten regional security, and negatively impact U.S.-Cambodia relations.”  

The relationship between the U.S. and Cambodia has also deteriorated because of concerns raised about the Asian country’s poor record on human and political rights, the AP adds.

— Updated Nov. 12 at 10:12 a.m.

Tags

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Regular the hill posts

See all Hill.TV See all Video

main area bottom custom html

MAIN Area bottom

Main area bottom

Top Stories

See All

Most Popular

Load more