Citing financial difficulties, Funcinpec has sold its provincial headquarters in Siem Reap town and relocated to a new site near the airport, officials said Sunday.
The headquarters have been sold to a private businessman who wishes to remain anonymous, said Prince Sisowath Sirirath, Funcinpec’s second deputy president. The party’s new offices near Siem Reap International Airport are new and bigger, he added.
“We agreed to sell [the old headquarters] because we have not a single penny in the coffers,” he said. “[There was] no way we could pay the security guard, the monthly salary of cleaners, the electricity bill,” he said. Prince Sirirath declined to say how much the former headquarters was sold for.
Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay sought permission to sell the property from a 12-member Funcinpec steering committee, Prince Sirirath said.
“We authorized [Nhiek Bun Chhay] to sell the property,” he said. “It is unlike Prince [Norodom] Ranariddh who made the decision [to sell Funcinpec’s Phnom Penh headquarters] alone.”
Prince Ranariddh is scheduled to stand trial in Phnom Penh on March 13 for allegedly breaching Funcinpec’s trust by selling the party’s headquarters in Phnom Penh for personal benefit in 2005.
Funcinpec spokesman Nouv Sovathero said that some money from the Siem Reap sale is being kept by Funcinpec and some is being given to the woman who owned the original headquarters.
Contacted by telephone, Nhiek Bun Chhay said he was in France and declined to speak to a reporter.
The Norodom Ranariddh Party issued a statement Wednesday claiming that Nhiek Bun Chhay sold the Siem Reap headquarters without consulting other Funcinpec members.
“Why can Nhiek Bun Chhay sell the headquarters and Norodom Ranariddh cannot?” Prince Ranariddh’s adviser Ok Socheat said Sunday.
Funcinpec issued a statement Thursday stating that Prince Ranariddh gave his consent to sell Funcinpec’s Siem Reap headquarters in 2003 while he was Funcinpec president.
According to a copy of a June 2003 proposal signed by the provincial Funcinpec committee, former Siem Reap governor Chap Nhalyvuth and Prince Ranariddh, the party had agreed to sell the 1,653 square-meter plot in Siem Reap town. In the proposal, which was provided by Funcinpec, the party had also agreed to purchase a 4,800 square-meter piece of land in Siem Reap district’s Kokchak commune.