Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — The former vice chairman of HCM City People’s Committee together with four other high-level city officials were charged with serious land management violations, the Ministry of Public Security announced on November 10.
The defendants are Nguyễn Hữu Tín, 61, former vice chairman of the HCM City People’s Committee for the 2004-08 and 2011-15 tenures; Đào Anh Kiệt, 61, former head of the HCM City Department of Natural Resources and Environment; Trương Văn Út, former deputy head of the land management office of HCM City; Lê Văn Thanh, 56, former deputy chief-of-office of HCM City People’s Committee, and Nguyễn Thanh Chương, 44, former head of urban affairs office, HCM City People’s Committee.
The five defendants will be brought to court for alleged violations regarding a 6,000sq.m land plot at a prime location on Hai Bà Trưng Street in the city’s downtown District 1. They have had their houses searched and restricted movement (home detention) imposed for the time being.
According to the investigation, with the approval of the finance ministry, the land plot was allocated to SABECO (Saigon Alcohol Beer and Beverages Corporation) -- formerly a leading State-owned beer producer, now a subsidiary of Thaibev – to build its headquarters and an office-mall complex, the Sài Gòn Mê Linh Tower, with investment of more than VNĐ2.4 trillion.
Nguyễn Hữu Tín, former vice chairman of the HCM City’s People’s Committee. — VNA/VNS Photo
A joint-venture company named Sabeco Pearl, with SABECO controlling 26 per cent of the shares with the remainder split among three other private companies as founding partners, was then established to oversee the implementation of the project, without the approval of the finance ministry.
Based on the dossiers submitted by Đào Anh Kiệt, in June 2015, former vice chairman Tín signed a decision letting Sabeco Pearl lease the land with a 50-year contract to build a “six-star complex” comprising conference centres and offices-for-rent, without going through proper open bidding and against the original approval by the finance ministry.
In 2016, SABECO sold its shares in Sabeco Pearl to one of the founder partners, as per a divestment plan.
The State Audit of Việt Nam said that while the divestment plan is in line with the Government’s policies, the selling prices were too low due to inadequate asset valuation.
The police said the investigation is being expanded in order to bring to light the offenders within HCM City administration, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, and SABECO.
Previously, in September, the investigative unit under the Ministry of Public Security has commenced legal proceedings against the four former HCM City officials – Nguyễn Hữu Tín, Đào Anh Kiệt, Lê Văn Thanh and Nguyễn Thanh Chương – on charges of mismanaging State assets, causing losses, in another case that involves Phan Văn Anh Vũ, the infamous real estate tycoon.
This is the second time in two months that they were indicted on their past wrongdoings. — VNS