HCMC deputy leader to face punishments over approval of cheap public land sale

By Thien Ngon   June 5, 2018 | 12:07 am GMT+7
HCMC deputy leader to face punishments over approval of cheap public land sale
Tat Thanh Cang, deputy chief of Ho Chi Minh City's Communist Party unit, was concluded by the unit's standing committee to have made decisions outside his authority. Photo by Thanh Nguyen

The land was sold at VND419 billion, while its market price was estimated to be five times more.

Top leaders of Ho Chi Minh City's Communist Party unit have agreed to hand down disciplinary actions to a top official for violations he allegedly committed involving a murky public land sale.

Tat Thanh Cang, deputy chief of the Party unit, was concluded by the unit's standing committee to have made decisions outside his authority, violated state regulations on asset management, on investment in state enterprises and on the sale and purchase of real estate.

Additionally, he failed to ensure that the unit's working procedures and principles are followed and showed a lack of supervision in the implementations of his decisions.

The Party unit's inspection committee is still compiling relevant documents before submitting a report on Cang's violations to the Party's Central Inspection Committee, which would decide on the punishment.

The decision to punish Cang was made after inspectors last month announced the results of their investigation into his decision to let the Party unit's Tan Thuan Investment and Construction Company to sell a 32-hectare (80-acre) plot of public land in Nha Be District for just VND419 billion ($18.4 million).

Inspectors reported that it was not within his authority to approve the sale and the approval itself violated regulations. By not reporting to the Party unit's standing committee before approving the sale, he also risked causing huge losses to the unit.

The Inspection Committee of Ho Chi Minh City Party unit has also punished Tran Cong Thien, board member and general director of Tan Thuan Company, by dismissing him from all Party positions and recommending that he be removed from his board member and general director positions.

Thien was determined to carry the main responsibility in letting the cheap public land sale happen. An investigation into whether he deliberately violated state regulations in this case has been recommended, which could potentially lead to a criminal prosecution.

A number of officials at Tan Thuan Company responsible for evaluating the price of the plot of land have also been handed down official warnings or reprimands for failing to fulfill their responsibilities.

Tan Thuan Company first signed a contract to transfer the plot of public land in Nha Be District, which lies by the Saigon River, to property firm Quoc Cuong Gia Lai last June.

Concerns that the transaction was "intransparent", however, arose as the land was sold at an unusually low price of VND419 billion, while its market price was estimated to be up to VND2 trillion. The Party unit's leaders last December ordered the transfer to be suspended for renegotiation after a reevaluation of the land by the municipal Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

In its reevaluation, the department put the land's value at over VND574 billion and concluded that Tan Thuan Company had caused losses of over VND150 billion.

The contract was eventually ordered to be terminated last April, and the Party unit's leaders ordered an inspection into the failed deal.

Vietnam has been going strong on its crackdown against officials' violations, seeing the fall of many high-rank officials including both Party chiefs of Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang, two of the country's largest cities, last year.

Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong said at a meeting in April that the country is determined to push ahead with more major corruption cases regarding power abuse violations by top defense and police officials.

 
 
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