"Borrowed" luxury car lands Vietnamese government official in hot water

By Cuu Long, Vo Van Thanh   June 10, 2016 | 12:09 am PT
"Borrowed" luxury car lands Vietnamese government official in hot water
The VND5billion Lexus registered with a blue plate numbered 95A-0699 that believed to belong to the Vice Chairman of provincial People’s Committee Trinh Xuan Thanh. Photo by VnExpress/A.X.
Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong has ordered an investigation into a newly-elected delegate of the National Assembly after he was spotted driving a Lexus 570 to work.

On June 1, the media reported public outrage in Hau Giang Province at a VND5 billion Lexus registered with a blue plate numbered 95A-0699 allegedly belonging to the vice chairman of Hau Giang Province's People’s Committee, Trinh Xuan Thanh.

In Vietnam, blue plates are only granted to cars used by government officials, and the Lexus 570 far exceeds the limit of VND920 million set for vehicles allocated to provincial officials.

According to results announced yesterday afternoon by the National Election Council, Trinh Xuan Thanh has also been elected to the National Assembly.

Prior to being assigned to his position in Hau Giang, Trinh Xuan Thanh was the chairman of PetroVietnam Corporation from 2007 to 2013. In 2012, the company reported surprise losses of VND293 billion ($14 million).

Thanh later made clear that he did not own the car but had borrowed it from a friend in Hanoi when he was transferred to Hau Giang.

“At the time I arrived, Hau Giang still had so many financial difficulties; the local government was not able to arrange a vehicle for me to commute to work. That's why I decided to borrow a car from a friend,” Thanh explained. He also said the car originally bore a white plate with a Hanoi registration plate 29A-79093.

“The blue plate was licensed by the local police after having been approved by provincial leaders of Hau Giang to help me do the job,” he said. “I am willing to return the plate if it upsets the public.”

Thanh added he would not ask for another public car as a replacement because Hau Giang is still a poor province.


Trinh Xuan Thanh held senior positions in the Ministry of Industry and Trade and PetroVietnam Corporation prior to his position in Hau Giang

A spokesperson for the provincial People’s Committee, Tran Thanh Lam, said because Thanh’s job requires him to go on frequent business trips to neighboring areas, the local government had asked the police to grant him a temporary blue plate for the car, which will be returned when Thanh leaves office.

However, according to several lawyers, the Ministry of Public Security does not allow private cars to bear government plates.

On June 9, in response to the controversy, Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong ordered an investigation into the matter, and assigned the Party Central Committee’s Inspection Commission to work with the Home Affairs, Inspection and Emulation and Commendation Commissions and other related parties.

This is not the first time this month the public service vehicles have been in the spotlight in the Mekong Delta. On June 6, local police in Soc Trang also made the headlines for using money from traffic fines to buy four luxury Lexus 570s.

Related news:

> Public outrage after police spend traffic fines on luxury cars

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