Party expels former naval commander over land violations

By Hoang Thuy   May 14, 2020 | 04:26 am PT
Party expels former naval commander over land violations
Former Deputy Minister of Defense and former Commander of the Vietnamese Navy, Nguyen Van Hien. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen.
A former commander of the Vietnamese Navy has been expelled from the Communist Party for negligence in naval land management.

Nguyen Van Hien, former Central Party Committee member and former Deputy Minister of Defense, has been expelled from Vietnam’s Communist Party after his mismanagement caused the navy to lose three land lots or a loss of more than $40 million for the state.

The decision to expel Hien was issued by Party chief and President Nguyen Phu Trong at the 12th Central Committee of Vietnam's Communist Party meeting Thursday.

The trial of the former navy commander and seven others involved in the case will begin next Monday.

Other officials who face trial in the same case include Bui Nhu Thiem, former head of the navy’s economy department, Doan Manh Thao, former head of the navy’s finance department, and Bui Van Nga, former director of the navy’s Hai Thanh Company, which is based in the northern port city of Hai Phong. They will be charged with "violating regulations on land management."

Former Colonel Dinh Ngoc He, deputy general director of the defense ministry's Thai Son Joint Stock Company, will be tried for "appropriating property through fraud."

According to investigators, three land lots at 2, 7-9 and 9-11 Ton Duc Thang Street in Ho Chi Minh City with a total area of 7,300 square meters was military land managed by the navy.

On March 13, 2006, the navy decided to merge the three land lots and Hai Thanh Company was assigned to work with businesses that were renting the land to complete the task.

In October that year, the navy got the nod from HCMC authorities to use the money previously earned as land use fees from businesses for site clearance and investing in facilities for naval units.

But Thiem, Nga and Thao intervened to convert the purpose of using the three land lots into commercial land, which was against land management regulations.

In July 2006, while no proposal had been submitted to the defense ministry for adjusting the land use plan, the three officials proposed that the navy signs joint-venture contracts to build office buildings and lease them out for 45-49 years at a flat rate at $4.5-5 per month per square meter.

Prosecutors said that as Commander of the Vietnamese Navy, Hien did not check this deal carefully and showed a lack of responsibility in managing military land.

As a result, he approved proposals by his subordinates that went against the law. He himself signed many documents suggesting the change in land use to the ministry and related agencies, and to use the land for constructing and leasing office buildings.

Furthermore, after transferring the right to sign future contracts related to those land lots to the director of Hai Thanh Company, Hien failed to keep an eye on the process.

This mismanagement allowed partners of Hai Thanh to use the land use right certificates as collateral. They even changed the business type and transferred the land to a third party.

All these misdeeds caused the navy to lose the land use rights over its property for 49 years, resulting in a loss of VND939 billion ($40.3 million) for the state.

Hien was retroactively dismissed as the Commander of Vietnam People's Navy by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc last September for "very serious" violations committed when he was the naval commander between 2004 and 2015. He had already been dismissed from all party positions in June last year.

This March, Hien was charged with "lacking responsibility and causing serious consequences" under the Penal Code.

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