Dueling Suits Filed Over Assembly Construction

The chairman of a government panel charged with the construction of the new National Assembly building has reactivated a countersuit against the company originally picked to build the building, which filed its suit after the panel pulled the $25 million contract from the firm. The contract was then awarded to a company that is run by the chairman’s new son-in-law.

Giang Shi Trading and Con­struc­­tion Co filed a lawsuit Sept 11 at Phnom Penh Municipal Court against Cheam Yeap, the CPP chair of the National As­sem­bly Construction Commis­sion, said Giang Shi Director Kim Khieng.

Kim Khieng said his firm filed a lawsuit against Cheam Yeap for rescinding a November 2002 written guarantee awarding Giang Shi the contract to build the new National Assembly building.

Cheam Yeap then awarded the contract to Ly Chhuong Construc­tion, Import and Export Co in January 2003, a company that did not make the panel’s initial short list of candidates for the contract.

“I want the National Assembly Construction Commission to compensate my company $6 million or return to my company the contract to construct the National Assembly,” Kim Khieng said Tuesday.

He said that it is not too late for the commission to take the contract from the Ly Chhuong company because work on the building’s foundation is not complete.

Cheam Yeap said Tuesday that he has reactivated a suit he filed in March against Giang Shi for defaming him with allegations of corruption made through the media. Cheam Yeap said he had put the defamation suit on hold but is now demanding $10 million from the construction company.

Cheam Yeap said the awarding of the contract to the Ly Chhuong company was a joint decision made with the consent of Kol Pheng, Funcinpec’s secretary general of the National Assembly.

Cheam Yeap denied allegations that the marriage two weeks ago of his daughter to Ly Chhuong, the director of his self-named company, had any bearing on his decision.

“The children love each other. The wedding doesn’t relate to the contract,” said Cheam Yeap, adding that the Construction Commission gave the contract to the Ly Chhuong in January 2003, months the wedding.

“Giang Shi Company doesn’t have the money to build the National Assembly. We waited for the company for a long time before invalidating the contract,” Cheam Yeap said.

Giang Shi director Kim Khieng countered that his company currently holds a $15 million loan to finance the project.

Ang Ubom, the lawyer for the Giang Shi company, said on Tuesday he has enough evidence to prove his client was unjustly denied the contract, but expressed concern that a high profile case involving a prominent CPP member might not be tried fairly.

“I am 100 percent hopeful that we will win the case if the judge is just and independent.”

On Nov 13, Municipal Court Judge Tan Senarong called on the two sides to compromise, but after they refused he invited them to bring forth their evidence. Tan Senarong said Tuesday that his decision would be just regardless of CPP involvement.

Giang Shi is a local subsidiary of the Australian based contractor 5 Golden Stars P/L.



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