Vietnam says reports on investment lawsuit verdict against government ‘inaccurate’

By Viet Dung   April 12, 2019 | 10:12 pm GMT+7
Vietnam says reports on investment lawsuit verdict against government ‘inaccurate’
Trinh Vinh Binh (front) filed a second lawsuit against the Vietnamese government, demanding $1.25 billion in compensation. Photo acquired by VnExpress

The Ministry of Justice says reports about the verdict in a case filed by a Vietnamese-Dutch citizen against the government are ‘inaccurate.’

In a release issued Friday, the ministry stated that an arbitration council founded in line with the United Nations Commission on International Trade and Law's (UNCITRAL) arbitration rules had issued a verdict in Trinh Vinh Binh's lawsuit against the Vietnamese government.

However, in accordance with the rules, both parties "have the responsibility to keep the verdict a secret," it said. The ministry also asserted that information on the verdict published on some news sites and social networks "inaccurately reflects the content and includes subjective interpretations and speculation, causing misunderstandings."

To maximally safeguard the interests of the Vietnamese government, the justice ministry is working closely with competent agencies and the representative law firm to take the next steps.

Since Wednesday, a number of online news sites and social networks have been circulating information that Binh had won the lawsuit and that the Vietnamese government would have to pay a large amount of money in compensation.

According to police in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Trinh Vinh Binh and a number of relatives left the country in 1976 and moved to the Netherlands. Between 1981 and August 1996, he returned to Vietnam 63 times, bringing with him a total of over $2.3 million and nearly 100 kilograms of gold.

At this time, Vietnamese law did not allow overseas Vietnamese to own, buy or sell real estate in the country. However, in 1992, Binh and his employees bribed two state officials VND510 million ($44,000 at the time) so his mother and his wife's siblings could receive over 500 hectares (1,200 acres) of forest land.

By the end of 1996, he had acquired nearly 2.5 million square meters (620 acres) of land and 11 houses in Ho Chi Minh City, Vung Tau Town and along National Highway 51.

In 1998, a trial court sentenced Binh to 13 years in prison for "violating regulations on land management and protection" and "offering bribes." The court also voided all of Binh's illegal land transactions and transferred the real estate to local authorities.

An appeals court also upheld the trial court's conclusion that "Binh's illegal land sales and purchases were not considered investments." However it commuted his sentence to 11 years.

Binh, however, did not serve his sentence and returned to the Netherlands.

In 2003, Binh sued the Vietnamese government as an investor and demanded compensation, using provisions of the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement that Vietnam had signed with the Netherlands in 1994 as basis for the lawsuit.

The Vietnamese government in 2006 exempted Binh from serving his jail sentence, allowed him to return to the country and considered returning his legitimate assets to him. However, this task has yet to be carried out due to violations committed by a number of individuals at the judgment enforcement agency that impacted on Binh's assets.

In January 2015, Binh filed a second lawsuit against the Vietnamese government, demanding $1.25 billion in compensation.

 
 
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