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‘Cheated’ car buyers summoned to meet in the capital

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Seng Hout​ garage is located in Por Sen Chey district’s Chaom Chao commune. Facebook

‘Cheated’ car buyers summoned to meet in the capital

Authorities on Tuesday summoned more than 100 car buyers and the owner of a car dealership to a meeting in the capital in order to resolve an ongoing dispute between the two sides.

Phnom Penh’s Chaom Chao II commune chief Va Sarong told The Post on Monday that authorities had summoned Seng Sopheak, the general manager of car dealership Seng Huot, and the car buyers to meet on Wednesday afternoon at the commune hall.

The summons came after the car buyers gathered on March 26 and 27 to protest outside Seng Hout, claiming they had been “cheated” by Sopheak.

Loeung Simeng, one of some 50 alleged victims, told The Post on Sunday that in late 2018 he signed a contract to buy a car from Seng Hout on monthly instalments. He said he had paid 30 to 40 per cent of the total price but had not yet received the car.

Many of the other claimants say they’ve had a similar experience in their dealings with Seng Hout, while others who have received their cars fear they may now be repossessed.

The car buyers renewed their protest on Tuesday after fruitless negotiations with Sopheak on Monday.

Simeng told The Post on Tuesday that talks broke down after the owner asked to delay resolving the issue until after Khmer New Year.

“The dealership’s owner says that he will ‘return’ cars to those requesting them, whereas those requesting money will only receive it in phases. We cannot wait anymore; we have waited for a long time."

“If we wait until Khmer New Year, then our day-to-day business will be obstructed and we are not even sure that he will deliver on his promise, as in the past he has delayed and avoided resolving the issue,” he said.

One of the protesters, 27-year-old Vuth Chhovoan from Takeo province, said the protestors are divided between those who want intervention from outside parties and those who want to directly deal with Sopheak for a resolution.

“I do not know if it is believable or not when the owner [Sopheak] says he will compensate the taxi drivers among us who have lost income from this. I think it’s unlikely as our compensation has not been given yet,” he said.

The protestors said that over 100 people claim to have been cheated by Seng Hout. The vehicles in question include high-end ones like Toyota Highlanders and Toyota Camrys, priced at between $10,000 and $20,000.

Sopheak was unavailable for comment on Tuesday, but he took to Facebook on Sunday to claim that he was also a victim. He said he had been paying monthly instalments to the Cambodia Driver Development Association, whose president is Phang Sokea.

He said Sokea has been provisionally detained by the court accused of defrauding some $3 million from a Japanese company and the cars had been taken away by the association.

“After the incident, I contacted the Japanese company directly to resolve the problem because I am also a victim. So to solve it, I have to continue to cooperate with them by collecting the 43 cars that I have leased from the association,” he said.

Mann Sophal, a lawyer representing Sopheak, told The Post on Monday that he was collecting figures first to assess how he can resolve the issue by compensating the buyers.

“I wanted to end this sooner because it is very messy, there are several groups involved. But I ask for time to collect and examine all the documents and then we will resolve it immediately, especially for those who are in need of compensation,” he said.

Sophal added that those currently in possession of their cars did not need to worry as a deal had been negotiated to stop them from being repossessed.

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