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Two timber tycoons have been arrested so far
PHNOM PENH--Forest-crime offenders in Cambodia will now face having their assets frozen in addition to possible fines and imprisonment.
According to a letter issued by the Council of Ministers and obtained Saturday by Thmey Thmey, measures against those found guilty of violating the country’s forest-protection laws will now go beyond seizing wood or equipment involved in the crime that has just been committed.
The letter sent to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and to the National Committee for Forest Crime Prevention issued the directive, the text reads, “[t]o freeze assets of any individual found to be involved with forest crimes in addition to court conviction and fines.”
The government’s decision was made at the request of the committee, which was established by Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2016 and is headed by Military Police Commander-in-Chief General Sao Sokha.
In the letter, the government gives the go-ahead to nullify forest-product export permits previously issued and to have the relevant authorities review and, if called for, revoke those permits in the case of companies found guilty of having violated Cambodia’s laws and agreements.
The authorities will also be authorized to gather evidence and to take the measures deemed necessary to gather evidence and investigate suspected forest crimes for court procedure.
Two timber tycoons arrested
Since last month, the National Committee for Forest Crime Prevention has been stepping up its efforts to crack down on forest crimes, and has vowed to destroy all vehicles linked to such crimes and strictly implement the law against any individual and company involved.
To date, as many as 200 vehicles used for committing forest crimes have been destroyed and more than 2,000 cubic meters of timber have been confiscated, according to committee Spokesman Eng Hy.
The committee’s work has also led to the arrest of seven people including timber tycoons Kong Kroeng and Soeng Sam Ol.
When asked whether the two tycoons will have their assets frozen, Hy responded that it will be up to the courts. “We have already forwarded their cases to the court,” he said. “Therefore, the decision to freeze their assets depends on the courts.”