Woman Wants Riverside Property Land Sale Halted, Claims Ownership

Sleek green signs announce that a choice piece of riverside property is on the market in Phnom Penh, but block letters in black spray paint tell a different story, claiming the land is not for sale.

Former Phnom Penh hotel owner Kem Chantha’s lawyer said this week that his client was preparing to engage international property fund JSM Indochina in a second legal standoff over a sliver of land inside a lot that JSM is selling on the corner of Sisowath Quay and Sothearos Boulevard.

A lawyer representing Kem Chantha, who was the owner and proprietor of four apartment buildings that were demolished at the site in 2008, said he planned to file a request with Phnom Penh Municipal Court asking for the sale to be halted until the proper owner was established.

“My client and I intend to lodge a complaint against this sale,” lawyer Huong Sopheak said.

Ms Chantha, 51, has been locked in a years-long legal battle with JSM over a portion of the riverside land that she says was illegally sold by her late-husband, according to Mr Sopheak.

Din Sivuth, who acted as the investigating judge in Ms Chantha’s original case, said he could not remember details of the lawsuit “because it is so long ago.”

Global realtor CB Richard Ellis has been tasked with selling the land, along with three other Phnom Penh properties JSM is looking to unload.

CBRE Country Manager Daniel Parkes said yesterday that he hadn’t heard of the request for an injunction and declined to comment on how the request might affect the sale of the land, which he called “a great site” that had garnered a “long list of potential buyers.”

According to a document obtained earlier this week, the Council of Ministers in June 2008 formed a committee composed of officials from the Ministries of Interior, Justice, Land Management and Inspection to investigate the dispute between JSM and Ms Chantha.

That document stated that in July 2008 the Interior Ministry wrote a letter to Phnom Penh municipal governor Kep Chuktema, saying the property the four apartment buildings stood on could not be sold until the court dispute was resolved.

       (Additional reporting by Drew Foster)


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