First-instance trial on former top city official opens

Update: December, 27/2019 - 07:44


Nguyễn Hữu Tín, former vice chairman of the HCM City People’s Committee, at the first-instance trial that began on Thursday in HCM City. He is charged with “violation of regulations on management and use of State assets, causing losses and wastefulness”. — VNA/VNS Photo Thành Chung

HCM CITY — The HCM City People’s Court on Thursday opened the first-instance trial of the case of Nguyễn Hữu Tín, former vice chairman of the city People’s Committee, for his alleged wrongdoings in the management and use of State assets.

Tín, 62, has been charged with involvement in the sale of a public plot of land in a prime location, resulting in losses of more than VNĐ800 billion (US$34 million) to the State.

Other defendants include Đào Anh Kiệt (former director of HCM City’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment); Nguyễn Thanh Chương (former head of the Urban Division of the Office of the city People’s Committee); Lê Văn Thanh (former deputy chief of the Office of the city People’s Committee); and Trương Văn Út (former deputy head of the Land Management Division of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment).

Tín and the four defendants are charged with “violation of regulations on management and use of State assets, causing losses and wastefulness” under the Penal Code, which would subject them to 10 to 20 years in prison.

According to the indictment from the Supreme People’s Procuracy, Tín, in his former position as vice chairman of the People’s Committee, was in charge of issues regarding construction, land management and environment in the city.

Tín and the other defendants helped the now-jailed business tycoon Phan Văn Anh Vũ, also known as “Vũ Nhôm”, to acquire many other buildings and public land in prime locations in HCM City at extremely low prices, causing great damage to the State.

Tín was clearly aware that the land and buildings at 15 Thi Sách Street in HCM City’s District 1 were under State management, according to the court. 

Despite this, Tín instructed the HCM City Department of Natural Resources and Environment to lease the land to Vũ, former chairman of the Đà Nẵng-based Bắc Nam 79 Construction JSC, and not report the lease to the chairman of the city’s People’s Committee at that time.

The defendants then illegally handed over a 2,345sq.m lot at 15 Thi Sách Street in HCM City to one of the companies owned by Vũ.

They also asked Tín to issue illegal decisions on land lease, house sale and tax deductions. 

In addition, Tín and the defendants also helped Vũ and his partners build an 18-storey building at 15 Thi Sách Street in HCM City and sell and rent it out to 114 clients, earning more than VNĐ1.033 trillion.

As of September 17 last year, when police began investigating the case, their acts had caused a loss of VNĐ808.7 billion ($34.77 million) to the State. 

In 2009, Vũ began moonlighting as an operative for the General Department of Intelligence of the Ministry of Public Security, but left the organisation in 2017.

According to the indictment, Vũ, while serving as chairman of Bắc Nam 79 Construction JSC, used this firm as a front for the General Department of Intelligence.

Police said that Vũ worked behind the scenes to set up five real estate agencies under either his name or the names of his family members between 2002 and 2017. 

He targeted public land in Đà Nẵng and managed to acquire 21 State-owned buildings and seven land projects in the city without going through public bidding, as required by law.

Vũ was already serving a sentence of nine years behind bars after a Hà Nội court found him guilty of deliberately disclosing State secrets last year.

The court has also summoned 18 individuals and organisations with related rights and obligations, including the city People’s Committee, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and Giải Phóng Film Co. Ltd, among others. 

The trial is expected to end on December 30. — VNS

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