Phnom Penh Municipal Court Overturns Mfone Injunctions

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has overturned two injunctions filed against bankrupt mobile operator Mfone, saying the decision will help the court-appointed administrator in charge of Mfone’s assets pay back creditors the money they are owed.

“The court decided to cancel the injunctions…to let the administrator be able to complete his duty in collecting [Mfone’s] assets to pay debtors,” the court order states, which was signed by judges Te Sam Ang, Seng Neang and Sin Visal on April 11.

Despite the court’s decision to drop the injunctions, the two creditors who filed the orders—Norwegian energy firm Eltek and Chinese technology giant Huawei—have objected to the decision because they want the court to order Mfone to pay back its debts first.

The court issued Eltek’s injunction in October and Huawei’s in­junc­tion in January. Eltek is seeking $3.73 million it is allegedly owed in service charges and Huawei is claiming $65 million. At a meeting with creditors on April 11, administrator Ouk Ry announced that the judges were considering dropping the injunctions to pave way for him to sell off Mfone’s assets. But Eltek’s lawyer Kuoy Thunna, on Sunday called the court’s order “illegal.”

“I understand that the judge council decision…is illegal, and the injunction cancellation is void,” Mr. Thunna said, adding that he was planning to file a complaint against the judges’ decision. “I will submit a complaint with the Phnom Penh court tomorrow, asking to cancel this order because it is illegal,” he said.

Lawyer for Huawei Aron Zheng did not respond to requests for comment, though he has said in the past that the court must provide a legal basis to any decision to drop the injunctions against Mfone.

Mfone is currently valued at $107 million, but at least 1,000 other creditors, including former employees, have claimed a total of more than $160 million.

Mr. Ry, the court’s administrator, said the injunctions had ultimately allowed Mfone’s assets to sit in limbo resulting in a decrease of their value.

“We are now [asking] for bids, and there are five companies already who applied for [Mfone’s] mobile equipment,” he said, declining to name the companies.

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