|Defendant Phan Văn Anh Vũ (also known as Vũ Nhôm), 42, former chairman of the Đà Nẵng-based Bắc Nam 79 Construction Joint Stock Company, at trial in HCM City on June 7. — VNA/ VNS Photo Thành Chung|
HÀ NỘI — The Investigation Police Agency under the Ministry of Public Security (MoPS) has suggested the People’s Procuracy prosecute two suspects for “swindling to appropriate assets” in the high-profile case concerning Phan Văn Anh Vũ (also known as Vũ Nhôm), former chairman of Bắc Nam 79 Construction Joint Stock Company in Đà Nẵng.
The two suspects are Hoàng Văn Châu and Thanh Minh Hùng. Both of them reside in HCM City.
The two men were accused of misappropriating hundreds of thousands of US dollars from Vũ by promising to help him and his relatives get US passports.
According to the results of the investigation, since late April and early May 2017, after articles and images concerning Phan Văn Anh Vũ – many of which contain State secrets – surfaced on many websites, the Investigation Police Agency summoned Vũ for questioning.
The agency also issued a decision to stop him from leaving Việt Nam to help the investigation. On June 30, 2017, the MoPS launched legal proceedings against him for “deliberately disclosing State secrets”.
To avoid being investigated, Vũ contacted and transferred money to Châu, asking him to help Vũ and his relatives get US passports to leave the country.
After receiving money from Vũ, Châu contacted Hùng, an acquaintance, as Hùng said that he knew an agency that offered the service. In December 2017, Châu told Vũ that he had the passport which was left at the US Embassy in Singapore, and asked Vũ to come to Singapore to collect it.
On December 21, Vũ used a passport under another name (Lê Văn Sáu) to go to Cambodia and then entered Singapore. At the same time, the MoPS decided to put him on a wanted list. Then, in January last year, he was arrested.
Although Vũ told the police he had been scammed out of US$700,000 but it was revealed through the investigation that Châu and Hùng only took $145,000 and $5,000, respectively, from him.
The Investigation Police Agency proposed that $150,000 out of VNĐ3.5 billion ($150,800) – the money that Châu's wife voluntarily returned – should be confiscated while the two suspects face trial.
According to the agency, this was the money that Vũ has transferred to Châu for illegitimate purposes, requiring confiscation to offset the damage.
Vũ, 1975, a real estate mogul in the central city of Đà Nẵng, was charged with several serious criminal offences – deliberate disclosure of State secrets, tax evasion, abuse of power, and violations of State regulations on management and use of State assets, resulting in serious losses and wastefulness. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison for “abusing position and power to appropriate assets” and an eight-year sentence for “deliberately disclosing State secrets” in another case. — VNS