Ex-deputy ministers jailed for public land violations

By Bao Ha   January 30, 2019 | 06:03 am PT
Two former deputy ministers will be jailed for involvement in violations committed by a disgraced property tycoon.

Former deputy public security ministers Bui Van Thanh, 60, and Tran Viet Tan, 64, will respectively spend 2.5 and 3 years in prison for "negligence of responsibility, causing serious consequences."

The Hanoi People’s Court held that the former officials’ mismanagement allowed disgraced and jailed property tycoon Phan Van Anh Vu to commit violations involving public land that caused VND1.16 trillion ($50 million) in losses for the state exchequer.

The three-day trial ending Wednesday also found Phan Huu Tuan, 64, former deputy head of the ministry’s General Department of Intelligence and Nguyen Huu Bach, 56, a division head under the department guilty of "abusing power or position in the performance of official duties." They were sentenced to five years in jail each.

According to the indictment, Vu, 44, who used to be one of the biggest property developers in Da Nang and was the chairman of three large property companies as also a shareholder in a number of projects in the city, was recruited to work as intelligence agent for the ministry.

Former deputy public security minister Bui Van Thanh. Photo by Vietnam News Agency

Former deputy public security minister Bui Van Thanh stands trial in Hanoi. Photo by Vietnam News Agency

Before working for the ministry, Vu already owned two companies based in Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang. With his new position, Vu asked his superiors to approve paperwork for him to lease and transfer land, as also land use rights of seven projects at prime locations in the two cities. His activities with public land caused millions of dollars in losses.

Tan, Bach and Tuan were found responsible as officials who directly supervised Vu, while Thanh was found to have broken laws in signing documents proposing the sale of several properties and land lots that belonged to the ministry.

 Former deputy public security minister Tran Viet Tan

 Former deputy public security minister Tran Viet Tan stands trial in Hanoi. Photo by Vietnam News Agency

Vu was also convicted of abuse of power and sentenced to 15 years in jail in the case that the court deemed "very serious."

The court also ordered the seizure of seven properties that Vu earned through violations.

According to the Politburo, the Communist Party's highest decision-making body, between 2014 and 2018, Thanh committed violations that resulted in "very serious" consequences, negatively affected the reputation of the Party and the public security forces.

He was also found to have signed a decision allowing Vu to travel abroad and requested a diplomatic passport for him in late 2017, even after investigations had been opened against his business violations. Vu was not qualified for a diplomatic passport at the time.

Thanh was dismissed from his position as Deputy Minister of Public Security and Tan was retroactively stripped of his title as Deputy Minister of Public Security for the 2011-2016 term last August.

Thanh was also dismissed from all Party positions and demoted from lieutenant general to colonel, while Tan lost his former Party position and was demoted from colonel general to lieutenant general.

[han Van Anh Vu

Phan Van Anh Vu stands trial in Hanoi. Photo by Vietnam News Agency

Vu had been sentenced to eight years in prison for "deliberately disclosing state secrets" last year in a case in which Tuan and Bach got seven and six years in jail, respectively. Given the fact that the violations involved state secrets, details of the closed trial were not revealed. 

In late December last year, Vu received another 7 years in prison for "abuse of power to appropriate property" in a case where he was found to have misappropriated more than VND200 billion ($8.6 million) from Dong A Bank.

Under Vietnam’s Penal Code, a person who receives multiple sentences will serve a maximum of 30 years in jail.

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