|Former Minister of Industry and Trade Vũ Huy Hoàng (left) and his lawyer in front of the People's Court in Hà Nội on Thursday for his trial. — VNA/VNS Photo Phạm Kiên|
HÀ NỘI — The People’s Court of Hà Nội on Thursday resumed the trial for ex-minister of industry and trade Vũ Huy Hoàng who was involved in the illegal transfer of ‘prime location’ State-owned land plots in downtown HCM City.
Also being brought to the court were nine defendants – former director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)’s Light Industry Department Phan Chí Dũng, born in 1953; former Vice Chairman of the HCM City People’s Committee Nguyễn Hữu Tín, 1957; former deputy director of the HCM City Department of Planning and Investment Lâm Nguyên Khôi, 1955; former director of the HCM City Department of Natural Resources and Environment Đào Anh Kiệt, 1957; former deputy chief of the secretariat of the HCM City People’s Committee Lê Văn Thanh; former head of the HCM City Department of Planning and Investment’s Infrastructure Development Division Lê Quang Minh, born in 1957; former head of the Urban Division at the HCM City People's Committee Office Nguyễn Thanh Chương, 1974; former head of the Land Management Division of the HCM City Department of Natural Resources and Environment Trương Văn Út, 1970, and former official at the HCM City Department of Natural Resources and Environment’s Land Management Division Nguyễn Lan Châu, 1975.
Ex-minister Hoàng, born in 1953, and Phan Chí Dũng, were charged with “violating regulations on the management and use of State assets, causing losses and wastefulness” under Clause 3, Article 219 of the 2015 Penal Code.
Hoàng on Thursday asked to remain seated and given medical support during the trial, citing poor health conditions, including a severe disease (he appeared to have required his lawyer’s support to walk up the stairs to the court room this morning).
Nguyễn Ngọc Huân, head of the judge panel, said he would consider granting permission during stages of the trial.
Nguyễn Hữu Tín applied for a trial in absence.
Tín and the remaining defendants were accused of “violating regulations on land management” under Item b, Clause 3, Article 229 of the 2015 Penal Code.
According to the 36-page-long indictment by the Supreme People’s Procuracy, the Saigon Beer-Alcohol-Beverage JSC (Sabeco), which is under the MoIT’s management, was given more than 6,000 sq.m of ‘prime location land plots’ at 2-4-6 Hai Bà Trưng Street, Bến Nghé Ward, District 1 in downtown HCM City for production and business purposes.
However, Hoàng, Dũng and former deputy of MoIT Hồ Thị Kim Thoa (suspected to have fled the country, currently wanted by police) during 2012-16 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, a 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 all of Sabeco’s stake in this project to the private enterprises in the joint venture.
The move was deemed illegal and resulted in a loss of over VNĐ2.7 trillion (US$112.5 million) to the State, according to the indictment.
The indictment defined that the majority of the defendants hold high positions in the MoIT and HCM City People’s Committee, with high professional qualifications and deep understanding of their areas. However, with different motivations, they committed serious law violations over a long period, deliberately triggering regulations on State property management as well as land management, causing great losses to the State.
The first-instance trial was first held on January 7. However, it was delayed due to the absence of three defendants and many other people whose rights and obligations are associated with the case.
The current trial is scheduled to last for a week starting Thursday, including the weekend. — VNS