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6 May 2013

Joel Brinkley, Politico

Private property, public greed in Cambodia

[T]he land [lawyer Mark Moorstein] focused on…is used to grow sugar cane, primarily. A wealthy and powerful Cambodian senator took possession of it after evicting residents…Many of the evictees held identification cards [from] the United Nations…Under the Land Law, that meant they held legal title to the property. The harvested sugar cane…was processed first in Cambodia and then in Thailand until finally it wound up with Tate & Lyle Sugars…Moortstein sued Tate & Lyle, claiming that “pursuant to Cambodian law, the claimants,” 200 villagers, “are the owners of the land” and “are entitled to the sugar cane.”…[L]ast Thursday, the company…file[d] its response to the suit. It said Tate & Lyle had no knowledge of any prior ownership of the land in question….[T]he defendants claimed, “The English court cannot adjudicate or call into question” matters of Cambodian law dealing with land concessions. [Also refers to American Sugar Refining]