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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - KDC payoff deemed invalid, villager says

KDC payoff deemed invalid, villager says

After accepting compensation and agreeing to stop protesting against the politically connected KDC International company, Lorpeang village representative Reach Seyma yesterday said his first cheque from the company was rejected when he tried to cash it.

Seyma, who on July 8 said he had agreed to accept $20,000 for his rice fields and an additional $2,500 to stop protesting, filed a complaint with Phnom Penh Municipal Court, claiming that a bank had handed back an initial $10,000 cheque.

“KDC issued a cheque in exchange for taking my rice farm and told me to collect the money on August 22,” he said. “They also gave me $1,000 more in cash not to join any more protests. But when I went to the bank, they said I could not get paid.”

This was because two parts of the cheque had writing that had been scribbled over and which instructed that the amount in question be issued only as a “loan”.

The Post has seen a copy of the cheque.

“In fact, it is their trick [in advance],” Seyma said.

But Phat Pov Sieng, a lawyer for KDC, said the company had cancelled the cheque after noticing that Seyma was protesting again.

“They are not stupid enough to pay him if he is still protesting,” he said. “They have money to hire people to investigate and we also have video clips.”

The complaint was filed against KDC’s owner Chea Kheng, the wife of Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem.

Dozens of families in Kampong Chhnang province have been in a years-long dispute over farmland with KDC.

The feud has escalated in recent months as police have clashed with and arrested protesters near their homes and blocked marches in the capital.

Seyma denied claims that he had returned to protesting.

“I adhered to the contract,” he said, adding that part of that agreement was that he would be “fined 100 times” if he rejoined the demonstrations.

“But after this complaint, I will join the protesters again who are seeking a resolution to their land dispute.”

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