The CPP-owned Renakse Hotel opposite the Royal Palace has been sold to a private interest, Min Khin, CPP secretary of state at the Ministry of Cults and Religion, confirmed Tuesday.
Min Khin, who was involved in arranging the sale, confirmed that the ruling party sold the historic property to Chheung Sokunthearvy, head of a company called Alexan Inc. He also acknowledged that Chheung Sokunthearvy is the daughter of Chheung Sopheap, owner of development giant Pheapimex Group.
Chheung Sopheap’s husband, CPP Senator and Peaphimex Director Lao Meng Khin, is also the director of Shukaku Inc, which has recently begun filling in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak lake as part of a massive residential and retail development.
The news of the sale came as a surprise to Khim Chantha, current manager of the 1930s, French colonial-era Renakse Hotel; no one told her that the CPP was breaking her 49-year lease on the property.
“I won’t move,” Kim Chantha said Tuesday.
According to Min Khin, the CPP did not need to notify Khim Chantha of the sale because she had violated the terms of the lease by not maintaining the property.
“It was the decision of the CPP high leaders,” Min Khin said of the sale. “I did not do it myself,” he added.
Chea Sokhom, a deputy to Min Khin at the government’s Permanent Organizing Committee of National and International Ceremonies, which is located directly behind the Renakse, said Monday that a contract was drawn up to sell the hotel property for $3.8 million.
A leading real estate agent valued the 6,547-square-meter hotel property at about $20 million on Monday.
Min Khin, who is also secretary-general of the Organizing Committee, said he didn’t know how much the Renakse had sold for. But Min Khin did say that he had given cuts from the sale to each of his 80 employees at the Committee, with $1,500, $7,000, or $10,000 going to each staff member, depending on level of seniority.
“I paid them already and they certified it with thumbprints, so it’s no problem,” Min Khin said.
He did not say why the employees had received payment from the sale of the hotel.
“We will give Khim Chantha $200,000 to move out by October 31, 2008,” Min Khin added.
Khim Chantha said that she had not been informed of such an offer, and said that $200,000 was not enough to buy her out of the lease agreement.
“I have invested a lot of money in this hotel,” she said. “They’re trying to cut me out.”
(Additional reporting by Rollo Romig)