Some 50 families from Sen Sok district’s Krang Thnong commune in Phnom Penh protested on Monday demanding that the owner of Oceana International Co Ltd provide an immediate resolution to their land and housing disputes.

The protests follow the Appeal Court’s recent decision to uphold a verdict that temporarily transferred over 8,600sqm of land in Krang Thnong commune, consisting of 82 apartments, to a new owner, after Oceana International’s owner lost a previous lawsuit.

Tuong Seiha, a member of one of the families, told The Post on Monday that during 2008 and 2009, scores of families bought residential development property from of Oceana International, with some paying 90 per cent and others up to 100 per cent up front.

“We don’t know what problem the company has. We went to pay the outstanding 10 per cent to get land titles from the company, but the company refused to accept it,” he said, adding that even the others who already paid 100 per cent of the price could not sell or transfer the apartments to anyone else, including their relatives.

Seiha said the buyers researched the issue and discovered that the owner of Oceana International, Chan Vitou, had borrowed more than $37,000 from another man, Kim Chhean, and they subsequently sued each in the Phnom Penh municipal and appeal courts.

Chhean won the case in both courts and, in February, the Appeal Court issued a letter temporarily seizing Vitou’s flats – even though they had already been sold more than a decade ago.

Another villager, Mam Boprek, who purchased two flats from Oceana International, told The Post on Monday that she accepted that the company owed money to Chhean, but said the court should not have issued the letter to confiscate the flats.

“I am a normal person. I don’t want to have problems or disputes with anyone. However, I don’t want to lose my home and land because of the dispute between Chan Vitou and Kim Chhean."

“I want the company to address this problem properly and quickly before the issue gets any bigger,” she said.

Duong Nhak, a former sales director for the project, told The Post on Monday that the dispute between Vitou and Chhean originated from money borrowed to cover construction costs for the foundations of two other projects in Prey Moul village in Sen Sok district’s Krang Thnong commune.

“I don’t know the reason for the court to make such a decision when the dispute happened over a second project. However, it is the court’s right to do so,” he said.

Neither Oceana International owner Vitou nor Chhean could be reached for comment on Monday.