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Former top cops go on trial today in Vu Nhom case
Monday,  1/28/2019, 18:14 

Former top cops go on trial today in Vu Nhom case

The Saigon Times Daily

(L-R) Tran Viet Tan, Phan Huu Tuan, Bui Van Thanh, Nguyen Huu Bach and Phan Van Anh Vu stand at the courtroom on January 28 – PHOTO: VNA

HCMC – Two former deputy ministers of public security are standing a three-day trial for their alleged involvement in the illegal sale of State-owned properties in Danang and HCMC as part of a broader probe into jailed property magnate Phan Van Anh Vu, 44, alias Vu Nhom.

The Hanoi People’s Court today, January 28, heard charges against Vu and four other former high-ranking officials at the Ministry of Public Security (MPS), reported the Vietnam News Agency.

The first-instance hearing is expected to last until Wednesday, January 30, and a team of ten lawyers are responsible for protecting the legitimate rights and interests of the defendants.

According to the indictment, Bui Van Thanh, 60, former director of the General Department of Logistics and Engineering, and Tran Viet Tan, 64, former general director of the General Department of Intelligence, have been charged with negligence leading to serious consequences, based on the 1999 Penal Code. They are also former deputy ministers of the MPS.

Meanwhile, Phan Huu Tuan, 64, former deputy general director of the General Department of Intelligence, and Tuan’s former subordinate, Nguyen Huu Bach, 56, have been charged with abusing their power, in accordance with the 2015 Penal Code.

The indictment states that Vu joined the police force as an intelligence officer for the General Department of Intelligence in 2009. He was under the direct management of Bach, Tuan and Tan.

Between 2009 and 2016, based on the proposals of Vu, Bach had suggested Tuan as his superior to sign documents for submission to MPS leaders, who then signed various proposals to abet Vu’s criminal actions.

These proposals suggested the governments of Danang and HCMC, as well as a number of agencies, create favorable conditions for Vu’s companies, Danang-based Bac Nam 79 Construction JSC and HCMC-based Nova Bac Nam 79 JSC, as front companies for the MPS.

During the period in question, his companies were able to acquire or use land and properties owned by the State at concessional prices without going through the due process of bidding, among other preferential treatments.

The misappropriated property included seven projects for public apartments and land lots whose housing and land area covered 6,700 square meters and 26,700 square meters in total, respectively, worth over VND2.5 trillion (roughly US$109 million).

Vu then claimed these properties for himself and his relatives and transferred some of them to the ownership of other individuals and organizations to earn illegal profits without any interference from the police, leading to a loss of more than VND1.15 trillion (nearly US$50 million) for the State budget.

According to the indictment, Bach and Tuan made it possible for Vu to commit crimes related to six public housing and land projects, causing losses of over VND1.13 trillion (some US$49 million) in total.

Thanh, who served as deputy minister of public security between 2014 and 2018, was in charge of the General Department of Logistics and Engineering – an agency responsible for the management of public housing and land at the MPS.

Despite never having control over the General Department of Intelligence, Thanh, at Vu’s suggestion, signed a statement in May 2015, which suggested the then-prime minister approve a no-bid contract for the sale of a housing and land project at 129 Pasteur Street in District 3, HCMC, to Nova Bac Nam 79 JSC for police operations.

Thanh did not ask the General Department of Logistics and Engineering to file a written notice with the General Department of Intelligence. As a result, the latter failed to manage the project in terms of security.

When Vu made the illegal transfer of the project to the private sector, Thanh did not report it to any competent agency for timely intervention, resulting in a loss of over VND222 billion for the State.

Meanwhile, Tan, who served as the general director of the General Department of Intelligence and, later, as the deputy minister of public security between 2009 and 2016, was accused of negligence in the management and operation of the department.

His misconduct enabled Vu to abuse his position and make use of official documents, which Tan had approved, to acquire public houses and land lots in the two major cities. The loss Tan caused amounted to over VND155 billion.

Earlier, Thanh was dismissed from his post as the deputy minister, and Tan was stripped of his title as the former deputy minister for the 2011-2016 tenure.

Vu Nhom uses bogus firms to acquire public land

Two former deputy ministers of public security, together with other defendants, admitted that none of the prime land plots later taken over by former business tycoon and ex-spy Vu Nhom were used for the operations of the MPS, reported Tuoi Tre Online newspaper.

Vu said in court that he was recruited as an intelligence officer for the General Department of Intelligence in 2009 and left the organization in 2017. He claimed his sole task was to do business for the department, which used his firms – Bac Nam 79 Construction JSC and Nova Bac Nam 79 JSC – as front companies for the MPS.

He added that the general department did not contribute capital to the two firms, but all of their operations had to be reported to the department.

Regarding a project at No. 319 Le Duan Street in Danang, Vu stated that while studying the markets of Danang and HCMC for economic development, he learned that the People’s Committee of Danang had an urban planning, renovation and development policy in place, so that plot of land had not been zoned yet.

As such, he sought ways to obtain its land use rights for “serving professional work,” claiming this referred to economic development.

According to the indictment, after Bac Nam 79 Construction JSC obtained the land use rights for No. 319 Le Duan, Vu successfully lobbied the Danang government to transfer the rights to him. He later leased the land and gained illegal benefits.

Vu was also allowed to rent the site at No. 15 Thi Sach Street in HCMC for a cheap rate. He then coordinated with local property firm Novaland to develop an 18-storey apartment building on that site.

The house and land at No. 129 Pasteur Street were also acquired by Vu.

“The defendant bought the property to develop its economic potential,” he remarked, adding that he had intended to build a condominium complex, but this plan was rejected by the municipal government.

Former deputy minister of public security Bui Van Thanh admitted that he had signed two documents, one of which suggested the then-prime minister approve the sale of the house and land at No. 129 Pasteur Street for “professional operations.”

Thanh then signed an official letter requesting the HCMC Department of Natural Resources and Environment for assistance in gaining the local government’s approval of the sale at VND301 billion. This act overreached his mandate.

Similarly, former leader of public security Tran Viet Tan said he had signed six documents to “speed up administrative procedures relevant to three projects.” He denied having signed any documents that permitted Vu to rent or purchase public houses and land.

 

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