Deputy dis­avows let­ter

The Phnom Penh Post - - NA­TIONAL -

let­ter was drafted by Sopheap.

“In ret­ro­spect, I shouldn’t have signed it with­out know­ing ex­actly what it said. It was a very bad de­ci­sion I made out of fear,” she said.

How­ever, Sopheap – who ad­mit­ted to meet­ing with Daily man­age­ment be­fore its clo­sure and sug­gest­ing they “soften” their tone in a bid to keep the presses rolling – yes­ter­day de­nied he penned the let­ter. “I did not know about that,” he said.

The Cam­bo­dia Daily printed its last news­pa­per on Septem­ber 4 af­ter it was slapped with a dis­puted $6.3 mil­lion tax bill, the de­tails of which were leaked by govern­ment mouth­piece Fresh News.

Since the clo­sure, the Tax Depart­ment filed a le­gal com­plaint ac­cus­ing its founder and two di­rec­tors of ob­struct­ing the tax process and tax eva­sion, which could see them face up to six years in prison.

It also is­sued a travel ban for Daily Gen­eral Man­ager Dou­glas Steele, and his per­sonal bank ac­count was frozen, along with the bank ac­counts con­nected to the Daily’s NGO, World As- sis­tance for Cam­bo­dia.

Tax Depart­ment chief Kong Vi­bol was un­avail­able for com­ment yes­ter­day, while his deputy Vann Puthipol claimed he “was not in charge of this is­sue”, de­spite head­ing the le­gal com­plaint, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments.

Krisher-Steele stressed the NGO had no tax dis­pute and that the lack of ac­cess to funds jeop­ar­dised jobs for 120 Kh­mer staff, English and com­puter classes for 3,000 stu­dents, schol­ar­ships and men­tor­ships for 600 ru­ral school­girls, and food for 40 foster chil­dren, whose par­ents had died due to AIDS.

“I have a hus­band who has been taken hostage. I have a news­pa­per that shut down, but now my con­cern also is: how am I go­ing to feed the 40 foster chil­dren?” Krisher-Steele said.

“Peo­ple told me not to speak, be­cause it may hurt me to speak . . . keep it all quiet, the way you’re be­ing ha­rassed by the Tax Depart­ment … But I can’t re­ally do that, be­cause it’s sort of like be­ing abused and not talk­ing about it.”

“I had no warn­ing – it just came out of the blue . . . I thought I was read­ing Kafka’s novel.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Cambodia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.