Former Vietnamese lawmaker stands trial for housing fraud

By Bao Ha   October 1, 2017 | 08:40 pm PT
Former Vietnamese lawmaker stands trial for housing fraud
Chau Thi Thu Nga addresses a parliamentary meeting in a file photo
Her company is accused of swindling nearly $17 million out of prospective homebuyers.

The trial of a former legislator accused of cheating potential homebuyers out of VND377 billion ($16.6 million) through an unlicensed property project opened in Hanoi on Monday.

Chau Thi Thu Nga, 52, who was a member of the legislative National Assembly and also chairwoman and general director of the Land and Housing Construction and Investment JSC (Housing Group), is expected to be in the dock for 18 days.

Nine former company execs are also accused of conniving with her.

Nga was arrested in January 2015 after complaints from prospective buyers who said they had deposited large sums of money into a housing project that Nga's company was developing in Hanoi's Cau Dien District.

She collected around VND377 billion ($17.6 million) from 726 people between 2009 and 2013, but work on the project has never materialized.

An investigation found the project had not been licensed, and that Nga had used the money for personal purposes and other investments.

Nguyen Van Tuan, former chairman and director of another Hanoi housing company which jointly invested in the project, was brought to trial in May last year but the court stayed the case to order a further investigation.

The National Assembly, Vietnam's legislature, has some 500 lawmakers, 90 percent of whom are Communist Party members.

Arrests of serving lawmakers are rare. Before Nga, the two most recent arrests took place in 2005 and 2006.

In 2005, Le Minh Hoang, former director of the Ho Chi Minh City Electricity Company, was charged with wrongdoings in the import of electronic electricity meters. He received a four-year sentence.

In 2006, Mac Kim Ton, director of the education department in the northern province of Thai Binh, was arrested for abuse of power and was sent to jail for seven years.

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