Former HCMC vice chairman jailed for land violations

By Hai Duyen   December 30, 2019 | 08:11 pm PT
Former HCMC vice chairman jailed for land violations
Nguyen Huu Tin, former deputy chairman of Ho Chi Minh City, arrives at the city court on December 31, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.
A former HCMC vice chairman will spend seven years in jail for land violations committed in favor of a real estate tycoon.

The Ho Chi Minh City People's Court on Tuesday pronounced Nguyen Huu Tin, 62, guilty of violating regulations on management and use of state-owned property.

The violations had led to the loss of millions of dollars to the state budget, the court ruled, sentencing Tin and other senior officials to varying prison terms.

For the same charge, Dao Anh Kiet, 62, former director of the city's Department of Natural Resources and Environment, got 6.5 years imprisonment, Truong Van Ut, former deputy head of the department's land management unit, five years, Le Van Thanh, former chief of office, four years, and Nguyen Thanh Chuong, former head of the urban management of the city’s office, three years.

Tin was arrested in November last year but he and Kiet had already been placed under house arrest two months earlier.

The arrests and investigation into the HCMC officials happened as part of an ongoing investigation of fraud related to public land in the city, which was linked to jailed tycoon Phan Van Anh Vu.

Tin was deputy chairman of HCMC in 2011-2016 and in charge of land and environment management.

In June 2015, Tin signed a decision to transfer a piece of public land in the central District 1 to Vu's Bac Nam 79 Company.

Half a year later the city granted the company permission to construct an 18-story building there and change its land use purpose, thus completing the sale to Vu.

Investigators found the sale violated regulations related to state-owned land as it was sold without any bidding process.

Tin personally signed the decision based on Kiet's proposal.

Dao Anh Kiet, a former director of HCMC Department of Natural Resources and Environment arrives at the court December 31, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa

Dao Anh Kiet, a former director of HCMC Department of Natural Resources and Environment, is escorted by police at the HCMC court, December 31, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.

Tin and Kiet are also under criminal investigation for leasing out a 6,000-square-meter (1.5-acre) plot of prime land in District 1 without bidding.

Their violations caused losses of VND800 billion ($34.6 million) to the state, investigators estimated.

Vu, 44, used to be one of the biggest developers in Da Nang, the third largest city in Vietnam after Hanoi and HCMC.

Authorities issued an international arrest warrant for him in December 2017 for revealing state secrets after he left the country. He was detained in Singapore the same month for violating that country's immigration laws and deported to Vietnam, where he was arrested upon arrival.

He was sentenced to nine years in prison for "deliberately disclosing state secrets" in July last year. An appeal court in late October last year commuted his sentence to eight years.

Vu is also under investigation for "tax evasion," "abuse of power or position in performance of official duties," "abuse of power or position to appropriate property," and "violating regulations on the management and use of state-owned property that led to losses or squander" in separate cases.

The biggest casualties in those cases so far are former deputy public security ministers Bui Van Thanh, 60, and Tran Viet Tan, 64, who were imprisoned last January for two and a half and three years respectively for negligence in public land management.

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