Land violations cost former senior HCMC official his Party titles

By Trung Son   March 25, 2019 | 09:48 pm GMT+7
Land violations cost former senior HCMC official his Party titles
Pham Van Thong, former deputy chief of HCMC Party Committee's Office, has lost his Party titles for multiple violations. Photo acquired by VnExpress

A former deputy head of the HCMC Party Committee’s Office has lost his Party titles for several land-related violations.

The Party’s Central Inspection Committee announced Monday that the decision to strip Pham Van Thong of his Party titles had been decided by the HCMC Party Standing Committee.

Thong, 59, was found to be involved in the illicit transfer of a 32 hectare (80 acre) plot of public land in Nha Be District to private property firm Quoc Cuong Gia Lai by the Party unit’s Tan Thuan Investment and Construction Company in June 2017.

He also wrongly signed a document allowing the Tan Thuan Company to transfer the land use rights for a riverside residential area project in District 7; proposed that the municipal Party Committee approve the Phu Nhuan Construction and Housing Trading Co. Ltd.’s illegal transfer of a residential area project in District 2; and suggested that holders of the municipal Party Committee’s capital in South Saigon Development Corporation be allowed to decide the corporation's capital mobilization by issuing shares.

Thong is accused of violating the Party's principles and working rules and the regulations on asset management and use, breaching the laws on land management and real estate businesses of the city’s Party unit.

"Thong’s violations were very serious. They have caused frustration among the public and adversely affected the prestige of the Party unit," the Party Inspection Committee said in a statement.

The 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 in June 2017.

Part of the land that state-owned Tan Thuan Company sells to property developer Quoc Cuong Gia Lai. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

Part of the land in Nha Be District that the Tan Thuan Company sells to property developer Quoc Cuong Gia Lai. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

Concerns that the transaction was not transparent rose as the land was sold at an unusually low price of VND419 billion ($18.1 million), while its market price was estimated to be up to VND2 trillion ($86.3 million).

The Party unit's leaders in December 2017 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 ($24.8 million), citing that only 480 square meters are residential land while the majority is agricultural land. It concluded that the Tan Thuan Company’s decision had caused losses of over VND150 billion ($6.5 million).

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

Following the investigation, several city leaders have lost their positions for involvement in murky land deals. Last December, Tat Thanh Cang, 47, was dismissed from several positions including deputy Party chief of HCMC.

 
 
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