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Sen Sok man tried for $100,000 land fraud

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday heard the case of a 49-year-old man accused of defrauding a client out of more than $100,000 in a land scam in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district in 2011.

Presiding judge Phou Pov Sun said real-estate dealer Pov Sovann had been arrested in June last year and charged with fraud under articles 377 and 378 of the Cambodian Penal Code for “selling” 2.5 hectares of already-sold land to businessman Sok Mao, then making off with Mao’s down payment.

According to the judge, Sovann had set a price of $300,000 on the land, but when Mao deposited an initial $105,700 and asked that land titles be drawn up, he found the property didn’t belong to Sovann in the first place.

“He had sold a total of two and a half hectares of land to the victim, and had received more than $100,000 from him, but he had no real land to sell to the victim,” Pov Sun said of  Sovann. “His activity was the act of cheating, and violated the laws.”

During his hearing, Sovann denied the accusation but admitted receiving the funds from Mao and dividing it with another man, Yaing Kimsean, who has since escaped.

Sovann maintained that, in 2008, Kimsean had asked him to help obtain land titles for a plot of Kimsean’s land, promising Sovann half of the land as payment when he received the land ownership certificates from the Ministry of Land Management.

In 2009, Sovann continued, Kimsean received the titles from the ministry and transferred the titles - which, Sov-ann maintained, must have been fake - to Sovann in return for half the proceeds.

By the time he tried to sell to Mao what he thought was his rightful property, he said, Kimsean had already sold it to someone else.

A verdict will be handed down on May 7.

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