Supreme Court to Hear Siem Reap Hotel Case

A long-running legal dispute between shareholders of Siem Reap City’s Victoria Angkor Resort and Spa will be heard by the Supreme Court on Wednesday, even though no new evidence has been presented since the court ordered an audit last year, a senior court official said Tuesday.

Seng Bunkheang, deputy prosecutor-general of the Supreme Court, said that the five-judge panel would hear the breach of trust and embezzlement case brought against the main shareholder of the hotel.

“The case file sent to me last week was completely the same,” Mr. Bunkheang said. “No new evidence at all.”

Francois Gontier, who is the CEO of Eaux et Electricite de Madagascar (EEM), a French company that holds 75 percent of the shares in Victoria Angkor, has successfully defended himself on four occasions—twice at the Siem Reap Provincial Court and twice at the Appeal Court—following a 2011 complaint filed by French businessman Pierre Ader, who owns a two percent share in the hotel.

In June 2013, citing a lack of evidence to support Mr. Ader’s accusations, Supreme Court Judge Khim Ponn ordered both parties to bring in firms to audit the hotel’s finances between 2003 and 2009.

However, no audits were conducted after Mr. Gontier refused to open the hotel’s books, requesting that the court appoint an impartial auditor.

Kao Soupha, Mr. Gontier’s lawyer, said Tuesday that he did not expect a decision at Wednesday’s hearing, but hoped a court official would now be appointed to audit the luxury resort, situated in the heart of Siem Reap.

“There is no evidence at all, but a very small shareholder has been trying to hold the main shareholder hostage and keeps pressuring for a buyout of his shares at an extremely high price,” Mr. Soupha said.

Long Dara, the lawyer representing Mr. Ader, said Tuesday that there was no new evidence in the case because Mr. Gontier had stifled any efforts to audit the hotel—a breach of the previous court order that he had included in a report to the court prior to Wednesday’s hearing.

[email protected]

© 2014, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.