Former Deputy minister of Industry and Trade Hồ Thị Kim Thoa. — VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — The Investigation Agency under the Ministry of Public Security on Monday issued a wanted notice for former Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Hồ Thị Kim Thoa for violating regulations on management and use of state assets, causing losses and waste.
Criminal proceedings against Thoa, 60, were launched last Friday as she and other officials at the ministry and in HCM City including former minister Vũ Huy Hoàng and former director of the ministry’s Light Industry Department Phan Chí Dũng, were suspected of causing losses of millions of US dollars at Saigon Beer-Alcohol-Beverage Corporation (Sabeco) – a state-owned company under the management of the ministry.
The officials were suspected of involvement in the company’s divestment in the real estate project at No 2-4-6 Hai Bà Trưng Street in HCM City’s District 1 – a prime spot in the city’s downtown area.
According to investigators, the land plot of 6,000sq.m at No 2-4-6 Hai Bà Trưng Street was arranged for Sabeco to invest and build a 6-star hotel and convention centre.
Although Thoa and Hoàng knew Sabeco was not allowed to establish a new entity to use the land allotted to it, she got the former minister to permit the establishment of the Sabeco Pearl Company.
Based on Hoàng’s approval and Thoa’s direction, Phan Đăng Tuất, board chairman and head of the State Capital Management Board at Sabeco, asked the HCM City People's Committee to approve Sabeco Pearl to be the owner of the project.
Tuất also asked HCM City authorities to let Sabeco Pearl perform financial obligations and for Sabeco to transfer its land use rights to the newly-formed joint venture in June, 2015.
Taking advantage of the Government's capital divestment policy and under Hoàng’s direction, in February, 2016, Thoa signed two documents for Sabeco to divest its 26 per cent stake at Sabeco Pearl and approved the starting auction price at VNĐ13,247 ($0.5) a share.
Hoàng also asked for speeding up the divestment procedure and auction price approval.
These actions led officials at departments of HCM City People's Committee to advise the city's former vice chairman Nguyễn Hữu Tín to approve leasing of the prime land to Sabeco Pearl in contravention of regulations, leading to the land becoming private property after some illegal transfers.
The land plot now belongs to the Mê Linh Square Investment Joint Stock Company, which used to be Sabeco Pearl, a wholly private company.
Decisions and actions of former officials Hoàng and Thoa and their accomplices caused serious consequences, loss and waste to the government, at over VNĐ3.8 trillion ($165 million).
On Monday, a wanted notice against the former deputy minister Thoa was issued as she reportedly fled overseas.
In addition, according to investigators, the investigation time-frame has expired, so the police have decided to suspend the investigation until she is arrested.
Meanwhile, also on Monday, the Investigation Agency under the Ministry of Public Security Ministry completed its investigation and transferred the case to People’s Supreme Procuracy, asking for criminal charges against former minister Vũ Huy Hoàng and accomplices due to their violations relating to the project at No 2-4-6 Hai Bà Trưng Street in HCM City.
Hoàng and Thoa’s wrongdoings were unearthed in November 2018 when authorities were investigating former vice chairman of HCM City People's Committee Nguyễn Hữu Tín. — VNS