The National Audit Authority (NAA), located on prime real estate on Phnom Penh’s Street 240, is in the midst of moving to a new location in Sen Sok district after a property swap with a company owned by a military general, according to officials at the NAA and others involved in the deal.
Duong Ngieb, who previously owned the land in Sen Sok district where a new building has been constructed to house the NAA, said the government had struck a deal with Nang Savuth, who he said was a general in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.
“I know that Mr. Nang Savuth reached an agreement with the government about three years ago to construct a new building for the National Audit Authority,” said Mr. Ngieb, who like Mr. Savuth holds the honorific title of “okhna,” which is often bestowed upon wealthy businessmen who enjoy friendly relations with the government.
Mr. Ngieb said he sold the land in Sen Sok district to a South Korean firm in 2002, which then sold it on to Mr. Savuth in 2008.
At the old NAA building on Thursday, movers were loading furniture onto trucks. An official in the administration department, who declined to give his name as he was not authorized to speak to reporters, said the building had been swapped with land owned by the Piphup Asia Trading Company, which lists Mr. Savuth as its president.
Mr. Savuth could not be reached for comment. But a woman who identified herself as an administrator at the company and gave her name as Phavy, confirmed Piphup Asia’s involvement in the deal.
“Oknha Nang Savuth does business with real estate, especially buying and selling land,” she said. “And he constructed a new building in Sen Sok district for the National Audit Authority.”
Som Kim Suor, the NAA’s general director, confirmed that the deal was a land swap, but declined to say who now owns the property on Street 240.
“We are moving to the new building today because we already handed over the building to the new owner,” Ms. Kim Suor said. “I cannot tell you who now owns the building but we already swapped.”
Shady land swaps have become commonplace under the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen. They often involve well-connected companies acquiring prime pieces of real estate in return for constructing replacement government offices on cheaper land on the outskirts of the city.