Monday, September 21 2020

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National Assembly delegate resigns over dual nationality controversy

Update: September, 01/2020 - 21:20

 

Phan Nguyễn Như Khuê, deputy head of the NA delegation of the HCM City, speaks at a press conference on Tuesday about a National Assembly (NA) member who was found holding two nationalities, following an Al Jazeera report on Cyprus’s passport scheme.  VNS Photo Bồ Xuân Hiệp

HCM CITY — A Vietnamese representative of the National Assembly (NA) has submitted his resignation from the NA, following recent information that indicates he holds two nationalities, Cypriot in addition to Vietnamese, in violation of Vietnamese law.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Từ Lương, deputy director of the HCM City Department of Information and Communications, said NA delegate Phạm Phú Quốc, 52, also submitted his resignation as general director of the Tân Thuận Industrial Promotion Company (IPC).

Hà Phước Thắng, head of the office of HCM City People's Committee and spokesman for the committee, said that this week HCM City National Assembly members would discuss the resignation and report to the NA for approval.

As a member of the Communist Party, Quốc will also be punished by the HCM City Party Committee this month. 

The city People’s Committee will consider suspending Quốc’s job as the general director of IPC, and will identify and clarify his responsibilities at IPC as well as his job at the HCM City Finance and Investment State-owned Company (HFIC).

Quốc has held Cypriot nationality from February 2018, but did not declare it at that time. He was “dishonest and failed to comply with the Party’s regulations,” according to Thắng.

Phan Nguyễn Như Khuê, deputy head of the NA delegation of the HCM City and head of the city Party Committee for Publicity and Education, said: “The dual passport status incident has brought shame to the HCM City National Assembly delegation.”

Responding to questions about why the case took so long to resolve, Khuê said that city authorities had to be very careful in verifying the information, which was initially disclosed on the internet. It also had to report to the central Government all the necessary steps needed to handle the case.

In the latest news, Quốc told local media that he had had Cypriot nationality since mid-2018, and that it was sponsored by his family and that his passport was not bought, as was previously reported by Al Jazeera.

Earlier, Al Jazeera had published findings from its investigation into 1,400 leaked approved applications for Cypriot “golden passports” between 2017 and 2019.

In a series of stories called The Cyprus Papers, the Al Jazeera Investigative Unit listed the names of individuals that appeared to have been political figures “vulnerable to corruption” at the time they bought EU citizenship by obtaining a Cypriot “golden passport” for themselves and their families.

Quốc’s name was included on the list,

Al Jazeera has reported that Cyprus’s passport scheme allows people who have invested at least $2.5 million in the country to obtain a passport, which means those individuals are eligible to become EU citizens and travel and work freely in EU nations, as well as enter 174 countries without a visa. 

Phạm Phú Quốc, 52, has held several positions in HCM City, including deputy head of the HCM City Institute for Development Studies, general director of the HCM City Finance and Investment State-owned Company (HFIC), and the chairman of the Board of Members of the Benthanh Group. 

He was appointed general director of the Tân Thuận Industrial Promotion Company in December 2019.

According to the Law on Vietnamese Nationality, NA delegates can hold only one nationality. — VNS

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