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Senator to sue Phnom Penh governor

CPP senator to file suit over 44 'stolen' hectares on Koh Pich

CPP Senator Peou Sithik has announced plans to sue Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema and Pung Kheav Se, president of Canadia Bank and head of the Overseas Cambodia Investment Corp (OCIC), for US$100 million over 44 hectares of land on Koh Pich that Peou Sithik claims the pair stole from him.

Peou Sithik said that he and his wife had owned 44 hectares of land on Koh Pich from 1994 to 2005, when Kep Chuktema issued a decree that voided all official land titles. According to Peou Sithik, Kep Chuktema proceeded to lease the land to the OCIC for 99 years at a price of $47.5 million.

"If he had done that in other countries, he would already be in prison," said Peou Sithik. "He robbed my land from me and sold it."

Peou Sithik said he filed complaints to various embassies, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank to discourage foreign investors from buying land at Koh Pich.

Rein Sambath, the manager of OCIC, told the Post on Tuesday that this matter had already been resolved by Peou Sithik's brother-in-law, Suor Pheng, who negotiated the terms of the agreement with Kep Chuktema.

"It is an internal family dispute," Rein Sambath said. "Kep Chuktema did not rob the land. He cleared the decision with Suor Pheng, and compensation was paid. Peou Sithik simply did not accept the money that was distributed to family members."

He added that the lawsuit will not affect the Koh Pich development project unless the court issues a warrant.

A relative of Suor Pheng who wished to remain anonymous claimed that the land was owned by Suor Srun Enterprises, and each family member was offered US$700,000 when the land was declared government property.

Charles Vann, deputy general manager for Canadia Bank, declined to comment on the dispute, while Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema was in France and was unable to be reached for comment Tuesday. 



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