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Police allowed to freeze illegal assets

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Almost 50kg of drugs were seized and 300 people arrested at the Rock Entertainment Centre in Phnom Penh in February. Heng Chivoan

Police allowed to freeze illegal assets

The Ministry of Justice and relevant state institutions have given the green light to the National Police to request the courts to freeze or confiscate the assets of six entertainment clubs.

A letter from Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana to Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, which The Post received on Thursday, said the decision was made during a meeting held on August 8 to decide on the procedures in freezing the assets of those involved in drugs, forestry crimes, human trafficking and money laundering.

It was decided at the meeting to permit the National Police to request the court to freeze the assets of six nightclubs involved drug crimes.

Three of the venues were in Phnom Penh, and one each in Siem Reap city, Sihanoukville and Banteay Meanchey province.

“The National Police will investigate the existing major drug cases and send [asset reports linked to] the cases to the courts.

“The courts will work with the National Police to search for the assets involved to freeze them according to the anti-drugs law,” the letter said.

The meeting also decided on the procedure to deal with assets involving forest crimes, human trafficking, money laundering and financing of terrorism.

The National Police is tasked with making a request to the courts according to the procedure set out in Article 30 of the Law on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism.

Vong Vatha also requested Sar Kheng to comment on the procedure, but Sar Khneg, who is also deputy prime minister, merely approved it.

“. . . send this [letter] to the Secretary of State in charge, the National Police and the general department involved, to implement what the meeting decided,” Kheng wrote on the letter.

National Police spokesperson Chhay Kim Khuoen said on Thursday that he could not remember the names of the six night clubs, but said the court would decide on whether to allow their assets to be frozen.

“We requested to freeze or confiscate their assets, but the decision is in the hands of the court.

“If the court decides to allow confiscation, there will be other procedures, and finally those assets or property would belong to the state and could be transferred to other institutions,” Kim Khoeun said.

Phnom Penh police this year raided three nightclubs and arrested several hundred people. Dozens have been charged by the municipal court.

Soeng Sen Karuna, senior investigator at rights group Adhoc, welcomed the freezing or confiscation of property and assets belonging to those involved in crime. “I think this is good action because those assets were gained from illegal activities.

“We must crack down on crimes. The assets of those involved in illegal activities should be turned into public or state property of society or the state. This is compensation, because those criminals caused problems in society,” he said.