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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Phnom Penh land lawsuit heads to court

Phnom Penh land lawsuit heads to court

A LAWSUIT by former National Assembly member Khek Vandy against businessman Duong Chhiv over the sale of 8 hectares of land on Phnom Penh's Chroy Changvar peninsula will be heard today in Phnom Penh First Court.

The former Funcinpec lawmaker told reporters Sunday he was seeking 45 percent of profits on the US$30 million he said was received by Duong Chhiv Co for the land, which includes almost 5 hectares sold to Korean developer BK Global in 2007. Khek Vandy said BK Global paid $500 per square metre for the land, on which it planned to build condominium complex Pharos Mekong Towers.

The remaining three hectares were sold for $260 per square metre, he said.

Khek Vandy said the disputed land was part of a larger 40-hectare block he had acquired over three years in the early 1990s from local residents.

He showed the  Post a 1991 letter from the Council of Ministers granting him permission to develop the area. He said he used the letter to encourage Duong Chhiv to form the partnership.  

According to a contract, which Khek Vandy said was witnessed by then-Russei Keo district governor Seng Ratanak, Duong Chihiv funded the purchases and development costs in return for 55 percent of the profits.

Duong Chihiv was reportedly ill Sunday and could not speak to the Post, but his wife, Sat Navy, disputed the claim. "The contract to share 45 percent of the benefit with Khek Vandy is only when we both share capital to develop the land," she said. "But in fact the land has not been developed, and Khek Vandy has not contributed any capital either."

She added that the land was sold for only $100 per metre, not $500 as claimed by Khek Vandy.

BK Global Marketing Manager Kheang Piv refused Sunday to disclose how much the company paid for the land, adding that BK Global owned hard title, so any dispute was between the two parties.

The planned development was shelved last year in the wake of the global credit crunch, and Kheang Piv refused to say when or if it would proceed.

Sat Navy said that her family were the real victims.

The family had bought around 40 hectares on the peninsula through Khek Vandy, who acted only as a broker, but most was reclaimed by the municipality for development projects.

"It is me who should sue him for taking us to buy land in such a disputed area," she told the Post. "I am the real victim who has spent money to buy that land 100 percent because we were persuaded by Khek Vandy."

She said her husband had only been allowed to retain 8 hectares it had sold because "the government realised that I have lost too much".

Khek Vandy is married to Bopha Devi, daughter of retired King Norodom Sihanouk.

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