Two face fraud charges for US passport trick on disgraced property tycoon

By Viet Dung   August 8, 2019 | 06:05 pm PT
Two face fraud charges for US passport trick on disgraced property tycoon
Phan Van Anh Vu at his trial for power abuse in June 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.
Two men who allegedly took $700,000 promising U.S. passports for jailed tycoon Phan Van Anh Vu and his family face prosecution.

Investigators said Wednesday they have recommended that Hoang Minh Chau and Thanh Minh Hung, both 56, be charged with fraud for tricking Vu, who used to be one of the biggest property developers in the central city of Da Nang.

Vu was found to have committed several violations regarding disclosing state secrets and mismanagement of public land. He is currently serving three sentences of eight years, 15 years and 17 years in jail. Vietnamese regulations rule that a person has to serve a maximum of 30 years in prison for combined sentences.

In July last year, Vu, while being investigated for disclosing state secrets and power abuse, accused Chau of cheating him of $700,000 to make U.S. passports for him, his wife and six children.

Vu said he had asked for Chau’s help since 2010 to make the passports, because the latter had told him that he had to get it done for $2.2 million.

In May 2017, Vu gave Chau $700,000 and Chau provided Vu with documents and fingerprint tools that he said were needed to apply for U.S. passports.

Chau promised to deliver the passports and collect the rest of the money by August 2017, but this was frequently delayed for various reasons.

When Chau was arrested last year, he admitted to the police that he had asked Hung to make the passports for $700,000, but added that he had only received $150,000 from Vu, which he had passed on to Hung with all relevant documents.

For his part, Hung said he did not know anyone or any organization that could process U.S. citizenship applications and he had only promised to make the passports "out of a whim." He added that Chau had only given him $5,000, not $150,000.

Investigations showed neither Chau nor Hung worked for the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam or any organization belonging to the U.S. government in Vietnam. There was also no evidence to determine that Vu was tricked into giving $700,000 by Chau.

Only Chau’s admission of receiving $150,000 from Vu and Hung’s admission that he received $5,000 form actionable evidence, investigators said.

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