Vietnam News

Former HCMC deputy chairman jailed for state property management violations

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Former HCMC Vice Chairman Nguyen Thanh Tai was sentenced Sunday to eight years in jail for land violations causing losses of VND1.927 trillion ($83.14 million) to the state exchequer.

The HCMC People’s Court found Tai, 68, guilty of “violating regulations related to the management and use of state-owned property causing losses or wastefulness.”

Three other senior city officials, Nguyen Hoai Nam, former secretary of the District 2 Party unit, Dao Anh Kiet, former director of the city’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment, and Truong Van Ut, former deputy head of the department’s land, natural resources and environment office, were sentenced to varying jail terms on the same charges.

Le Thi Thanh Thuy, President of Mayflower Investment Company Ltd and Lavenue Investment JSC, was sentenced to five years in jail in the same case.

Tai, 68, served as HCMC vice chairman between 2011 and 2015. In 2018, the Government Inspectorate concluded he was mainly responsible for the city’s decision to lease out a land lot on a prime location at 8-12 Le Duan Street in District 1 without competitive bidding.

The plot, spanning nearly 5,000 square meters, had been earmarked for construction of a five-star hotel and mall.

Government auditors said city authorities should have carried out a bidding process to select a prestigious and experienced investor. Instead, they allowed the establishment of a joint stock company in 2010 to carry out the project, following requests from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, whose units were renting the land lot.

The HCMC Housing Management and Trading Company held a 50 percent share in the new company, Lavenue Investment JSC, and the rest of the shares were held by different trade ministry units. Two months after incorporation, the companies under the ministry sold 80 percent of their shares in Lavenue Investment to two private companies, Mayflower and the Kinh Do Investment Company.

In 2011, Tai, “being acquainted with” Thuy, 41, had signed a series of documents that went against regulations to allow her to contribute 30 percent of capital in the project and become the president of Lavenue Investment.

In June that year, Lavenue Investment received the city government’s approval to build the hotel by paying the city nearly VND700 billion ($30.6 million). However, no construction has taken place for years and the lot is now used for parking cars.

“The relationship between Tai and Thuy had paved the way for Thuy to take part in the project,” the court said.

Their violations, carried out with the involvement of Kiet, Nam and Ut, had caused losses of VND1.927 trillion for the state, inspectors estimated.

However, since the violation was detected just in time, the land plot, which stands in the heart of the city not far from iconic buildings like the Central Post Office, the Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Independence Palace, has been revoked from the Lavenue Investment JSC, and the real loss now stays at more than VND4.7 billion ($202,777).

Kiet was sentenced to five years in prison, Nam four and Ut three. The three had recommended that Tai approves of the illegal decisions despite knowing that the project lacked several relevant documents.

By Quoc Thang – September 20, 2020

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