Vietnam arrests top ex-officials as corruption crackdown continues

By Staff reporters   April 17, 2018 | 08:25 am PT
Multiple former Da Nang officials are under probe for land management violations involving a fallen tycoon.

Vietnamese police have arrested a retired senior police official and a former Da Nang chairman as part of an ongoing investigation into an ex-fugitive Da Nang real estate tycoon.

Phan Huu Tuan, 63, former deputy general director of the General Intelligence Department under the Ministry of Public Security, has been arrested and is under investigation for deliberate disclosure of state secrets, the ministry announced Tuesday.

Police have also arrested Nguyen Huu Bach, an official of the ministry, for the same charge. Both Tuan and Bach have been stripped of their titles in the police force.

Tran Van Minh, 63, Da Nang's chairman from 2006 to 2011, was also arrested on Tuesday for violations in land management and public property management and use.

Police have launched a criminal investigation into Van Huu Chien, 64, who served as Da Nang's chairman from 2011 to 2014, for the same charges as Minh.

From left: Tran Van Minh, former Danang chairman; Nguyen Dieu, fomer director of Natural Resources and Environment Dept of Danang; and Van Huu Chien, fomer chairman of Danang. 

From left: Tran Van Minh, former Danang chairman; Nguyen Dieu, former director of Natural Resources and Environment Dept of Da Nang; and Van Huu Chien, former chairman of Da Nang. 

Two former leaders of Da Nang's Department of Natural Resources and Environment and the director of the city's investment promotion board are placed under house arrest and investigated for land management violations.

The criminal investigations were launched as part of an investigation into the fallen real estate tycoon Phan Van Anh Vu for "deliberately disclosure of state secrets," "tax evasion" and "abuse of power," according to the Ministry of Public Security.

Vu, 43, was one of the biggest property investors in Da Nang. He was the chairman of three major property companies and a shareholder in a number of other projects in the city, usually considered the third most important in Vietnam after Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Last December, authorities conducted a search of Vu's house before issuing an international arrest warrant for him. He was detained in Singapore later that month for violating the country's immigration law, before being deported back to Vietnam where he was arrested upon arrival.

According to investigators, during their time as Da Nang's chairmen, Minh and Chien approved policies to sell many plots of public land and real estate projects, resulting in a loss of VND3.4 trillion ($150 million) for the city. Vu was found to be involved in many of these loss-incurring deals.

Dozens of Vietnamese officials and business figures have been arrested in a crackdown on corruption that is being spearheaded by Vietnam’s Communist Party leader Nguyen Phu Trong.

The crackdown grabbed global headlines last year when former oil executive Trinh Xuan Thanh showed up in Hanoi after fleeing to Germany. Police said he turned himself in. He received two life sentences for embezzlement at state-owned PetroVietnam at trials this year.

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