Tuesday, September 21 2021

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Trial for former trade minister in land mismanagement case postponed after key defendants fail to show

Update: January, 07/2021 - 14:57

 

Former Minister of Industry and Trade Vũ Huy Hoàng (in mask) shows up at Hà Nội People's Court on Thursday for his trial. — VNA/VNS Photo Doãn Tấn

HÀ NỘI — The first-instance trial on land mismanagement offences against ex-Minister of Industry and Trade Vũ Huy Hoàng and nine accomplices, slated for Thursday, was postponed due to the absence of three defendants and many people with related interests and obligations.

The judges at the Hà Nội People’s Court asked relevant agencies to ensure all defendants and related people will be present once the trial is re-opened.

Hoàng, born in 1953, and Phan Chí Dũng, born in 1957, and the former Director of the Light Industry Department at the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), are facing charges of “violating regulations on the management and use of State assets, causing losses and wastefulness”.

The eight other defendants, who are former HCM City officials, including Nguyễn Hữu Tín, born in 1957 and the former Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, were accused of “violating regulations on land management”.

Tín and two others who are former officials of HCM City were absent from the trial on Thursday.

According to the indictment from the Supreme People’s Procuracy, the State-owned Saigon Beer-Alcohol-Beverage JSC (Sabeco), under the management of the MoIT’s, was given 6,080sq.m of land in Bến Nghé ward of HCM City’s District 1 for non-agricultural production and business purposes.

However, Hoàng, former Deputy Minister Hồ Thị Kim Thoa, and Dũng directed subordinates at the ministry and Sabeco to carry out procedures for using land use rights and Sabeco's money as capital contributions to set up Sabeco Pearl, a joint venture between the firm and a number of private enterprises, to implement a project building a hotel, trade and convention centre, and office space for lease on the land.

After Sabeco completed legal procedures for the joint venture’s investment and proposed the HCM City People’s Committee approve the addition of officetel and housing functions to this project, the MoIT ordered the company to transfer Sabeco's stake in this project to the private enterprises in the joint venture.

As a result, the right to manage and use the land, which is a State asset and valued at over VNĐ3.816 trillion, was illegally transferred to private firms, causing a “particularly big” loss of over VNĐ2.713 trillion (US$118 million) to the State, according to the indictment.

Another of the accused, Hồ Thị Kim Thoa, has fled the country, and the investigation police agency has put her on the wanted list. — VNS

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