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Russey Keo governor summonsed to court

The governor of Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district has been summonsed to court for questioning on allegations that he and his wife cheated a former secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development out of $730,000 through a fraudulent sale of state land and loans that were never paid back.

District Governor Khlaing Huot, 43, and his wife, Uong Sophalla, 41, have been summonsed to appear at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on May 21 after Lon Phon, now with the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, filed a lawsuit against them.

According to the court’s two separate summonses, issued by deputy prosecutor Hean Sopheak on April 29, Huot has been accused of being an accomplice to fraud, while his wife, who acted as the land broker, is accused of fraud.

The allegations rest on claims that in 2006 the couple sold Phon’s family a 1-hectare piece of land in Russey Keo’s Phnom Penh Thmey commune that they purportedly owned – for $300,000 – but the land was later seized by the government as state land.

Phon has also accused Sophalla and Huot of borrowing $430,000 from his family at an interest rate of 3 per cent, but claims none of the money or interest was paid back.

“To pay for damages, I am demanding Mr Khlaing Huot and his wife pay me the $730,000 and $100,000 in compensation. And I ask the court to strongly punish them through the law,” he said yesterday.

Copies of documents related to both the land sale and the loans appear to show that Huot and his wife did sell the land in question to Phon and his wife, Tes Sopha, and did take numerous large loans starting from December 2007.

But Huot yesterday denied the allegations.

“Please see my curriculum vitae and my family’s history. I have been working as the governor for two districts in Phnom Penh already. I have never cheated a cent of money from any person. I did not commit any such accusation that he has raised,” he said.

“I think that what he has sued me for is false and has seriously affected my honour and reputation.

“I will sue him back in court for defamation soon.”

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