Firm Calls Fraud Case a ‘Misunderstanding’

The director of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court last week formally accused a property developer of attempting to defraud him of more than $200,000 he paid for a villa in Tuol Kok district when his name was not transferred to the land title, the businessman’s assistant said Sunday.

Ang Mealaktei, 58, filed a complaint Thursday with the court he oversees against Thorng Sarat, 37, owner of the Meanchey International Investment firm, accusing the businessman of fraud because his name was not transferred to a land title for a villa in Toek La’ak III commune that he purchased from the company, according to Phuon Sophanith, an assistant to Mr. Sarat.

But Mr. Sophanith said the dispute between his boss and the court director was merely the result of a misunderstanding, and that Mr. Mealaktei’s name will be transferred to the land title once he has paid an outstanding tax to the Ministry of Finance.

“We did transfer [Mr. Mealaktei’s] name to be the owner of the house but he is still seeing the name of Okhna Thorng Sarat in the document because he has not paid the tax to the public,” Mr. Sophanith said, using the honorific often given to wealthy businessmen with close ties to the government.

Mr. Sophanith said Mr. Mealaktei was probably angry because he had already paid the company a $1,000 fee required by commune officials to have his name changed on the land title, and didn’t understand that he also needed to pay a tax to the Finance Ministry.

“The Land Management Ministry transfers the names automatically…it is waiting for him to pay the tax,” he said, adding that he attempted to clear up the confusion in a recent meeting with Mr. Mealaktei, to no avail.

Mr. Mealaktei declined to comment Sunday and his lawyer could not be reached.

According to a copy of the contract between Mr. Mealaktei and Mr. Sarat’s company, the villa in the California Borey 999 gated community, built by Meanchey International Investment, was purchased by Mr. Mealaktei and his wife in March 2013. The $225,000 price tag was paid in seven installments.

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