Cambodia graft hits disease-fighting fund
Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 1:28AM
Julie DiMauro in 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index, Cambodia, Duong Socheat, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, National Malaria Center, Transparency International, Tuberculosis and Malaria

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria issued a report in November that described how Cambodian government officials took nearly half a million dollars in bribes from mosquito-net manufacturers.

Cambodian officials vowed at the time that justice would be served. So far, nothing has happened, Quartz news service reported.

The Global Fund, set up by donors like Bill Gates, accused three top Cambodian health officials of taking $410,000 in bribes from two anti-malarial mosquito-net manufacturers -- Vestergaard Frandsen and Sumitomo Chemical.

One of the bureaucrats named in the report, former National Malaria Center director Duong Socheat, who has since retired, was never charged with a crime.

The head of the government's anti-corruption unit, Om Yentieng, said his office didn't have enough evidence to support the accusations against Socheat.

Quartz said the outcome is "emblematic of what ails the Cambodian economy."

The counnty is ranked by Transparency International's corruption perceptions index at 160 out of 177 countries.

The U.S. State Department said last year that business people, "both local and foreign, have identified corruption, particularly within the judiciary, as the single greatest deterrent to investment in Cambodia."

And the International Labor Organization said corruption siphons off about 10 percent of the country's GDP.

The Global Fund told Quartz that it was not planning to reduce its funding to Cambodia, which was $331 million collectively in the last decade. Instead, it is working with the country's government to "get repayment on funds identified as misused."

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Julie DiMauro is the executive editor of FCPA Blog and can be reached here.

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