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Former deputy defence minister on trial for land fraud

Update: May, 19/2020 - 08:19

 

Former deputy defence minister Nguyễn Văn Hiến is allowed to sit in court on Monday due to his poor health. — VNA/VNS Photo Dương Giang

HÀ NỘI — A Navy Court Martial on Monday opened the first instance hearing regarding the mismanagement of defence land in HCM City’s District 1 in which former deputy defence minister Nguyễn Văn Hiến, other Navy officials and company leaders are accused.

According to the verdict of the Central Military Procuracy, when Hiến was deputy defence minister and commander of the Việt Nam People’s Navy, he signed and approved the use of defence land on Tôn Đức Thắng Street, Bến Nghé Ward for economic purposes without verifying the information provided by his subordinates. This broke Defence Ministry and Government regulations, as well as the 2013 Land Law.

Hiến is accused of failing to supervise financial contributions and ignoring orders from the Defence Ministry. These included his duty to verify why authorisation was given to a Hải Thành Company director to sign venture contracts, which resulted in partners using land-use rights certificates to take out mortages, change the nature of the ownership and transfer the land to third parties.

As a result, the Navy lost the right to manage and use three plots of land for 49 years, causing losses of VNĐ939 billion to the State budget.

On Monday, Nguyễn Văn Hiến, 67 and retired, was charged with "lack of responsibility, causing serious consequences" in accordance with Clause 3, Article 360 of the 2015 Penal Code.

Those accused of “fraud and appropriation of assets” included Đinh Ngọc hệ, deputy general director of the Thái Sơn Corporation under the Ministry of National Defence, and chairman and general director of the Thái Sơn Development and Investment JSC; Phạm Văn Diệt, general director of the Đức Bình Group Joint Stock Company and managing director of the Yên Khánh Production, Trading Service Limited Company; and Vũ Thị Hoan, director of the Yên Khánh Production, Trading Service Limited Company and director of the Yên Khánh Hải Thành Limited Company.

Bùi Như Thiềm, former head of the Economics Division at the Việt Nam People’s Navy; Bùi Văn Nga, former director of the Hài Thành Service and Sea Island Tourism One-Member Limited Liability Company at the Việt Nam People’s Navy; and Trần Trọng Tuấn, deputy director of the Hải Thành Service and Sea Island Tourism One-Member Limited Liability Company, are also being prosecuted for “violating regulations on land management”.

At its 12th plenum last week, the Party Central Committee considered and decided upon disciplinary measures against Hiến - expelling him from the Party.

Bùi Như Thiềm, Đoàn Mạnh Thảo, Bùi Văn Nga and Trần Trọng Tuấn were accused of making false proposals that led to Hiến’s lack of oversight and subsequent approval of the documents, which caused great losses.

Đinh Ngọc Hệ, Phạm Văn Duyệt and Vũ Thi Hoan were accused of acting fraudulently by forging signatures to transfer land use rights from Hải Thành Company to Yên Khánh Hải Thành Company for use as collateral for bank loans.

At a trial on July 31, 2018, the Military Court of Military Zone 7 sentenced Đinh Ngọc Hệ to ten years in jail for “abusing his position and power while performing official duties”, and another two years for “using falsified documents from agencies and organisations”.

According to the Central Military Procuracy, when signing venture contracts the accused ignored land prices set by the HCM City People’s Committee and agreed on deals for far less money.

As a result, between September 4, 2006 to 2018, the State lost over VNĐ20 billion. Hiến, Thiềm, Nga and Thảo were convicted of being complicit to the loss.

However, on Monday the Central Military Procuracy overturned that ruling as there was not enough evidence to support the convictions.

The first instance hearing is expected to run until May 20. — VNS

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