Vietnam News

Vietnam police arrest senior official over illicit sand mining

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Police in Vietnam arrested a top provincial official on Dec 25 in an investigation into illegal sand mining, the government said.

Mining sand – mainly for concrete used in construction – has boomed in Vietnam in recent years, prompting dire warnings over the environmental impact of over-exploitation.

Nguyen Thanh Binh, the chairman of the people’s committee in An Giang province in the Mekong delta – a hot spot for sand mining – was arrested on suspicion of abuse of power, the Ministry of Public Security said in a public announcement.

Binh, 59, had “abused his power, intervened and made orders so that the Trung Hau 68 Company could over-exploit sand in An Giang… pocketing a huge sum of money”, the statement said, without providing further details.

The official, holding the highest position in the province since May 2019, had his office and residence searched on Dec 24 and 25, police said.

Police said previously that the Trung Hau 68 Company mined more than 4.7 million cubic metres of sand, despite having a licence to extract just a third of that.

In August, the authorities took Binh’s deputy into custody for allegedly taking bribes of US$50,000 (S$66,000) in the same scandal, which has seen more than a dozen officials and businesspeople arrested.

In a World Wide Fund for Nature report in August, experts warned that sand mining to feed Vietnam’s construction boom is depleting resources so fast that the Mekong delta – the country’s “rice bowl” – could run out in just over a decade.

With less sand, river flows become lighter and faster and hit the banks at greater speed, accelerating erosion.

In mid-November, police arrested an official for allegedly colluding with gangs to extort money from sand-mining businesses near Hanoi. 

Agence France Presse – December 26, 2023

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