Real estate tycoon charged with defrauding customers in apartment building project

Update: July, 11/2019 - 08:20
Lê Thanh Thản, Chairman of Mường Thanh Group. — VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — Lê Thanh Thản, one of the country’s most notable real estate players, was charged with defrauding customers, the Hà Nội People’s Procuracy announced on Wednesday.

Thản, Chairman of Mường Thanh Group, one of the biggest private owners of hotels and resorts in Việt Nam, is facing legal trouble for his role in a series of construction violations at the CT6 apartment building project in Kiến Hưng urban area by Bemes Production and Import-Export JSC, where he serves as the director general.

According to the procuracy, the Kiến Hưng project in Hà Đông District featured one building that was erected without a licence and without submitting blueprint documents to the authorities. All the apartments have already been sold.

Bemes allegedly provided customers with misleading information on the legal status of the apartments – the company claimed the apartments’ owners would be eligible for “red books", or land use rights certificates – to lure customers to make advance payments.

However, as of now, customers have not obtained the red books and land authorities will deny their requests on the ground of the properties’ insufficient licencing.

Thản’s private residence and Bemes company were searched by police on Monday.

The search was carried out at four separate locations – the headquarters of Bemes in the northern province of Điện Biên as per its business registration and three sites in Hà Nội including apartments at the Linh Đàm urban area in Hoàng Mai District and the management boards of Thanh Hà and Xa La urban areas in Hà Đông District.

Caches of documents were seized by the authorities during the search.

Even though Thản is not currently in Hà Nội and Điện Biên, Vietnamese law states the city's procuracy can still authorise a search warrant if the person of interest is deliberately evading authorities or if the search cannot be postponed any further.

On July 5, Hà Nội police decided to launch legal proceedings against Thản and forwarded the case files to the Hà Nội People’s Procuracy for approval. Three days later, the procuracy gave the nod to move forward.

While some speculated online that Thản had already been arrested yesterday, speaking to local media, Thản said he is currently on a business trip to Phú Quốc Island and was not previously aware of the charges.

The procuracy said that Thản could be placed on bail for the charge of defrauding his customers, pending the investigation.

According to Vietnam News Agency, this is the first time Hà Nội’s procuracy has charged someone with defrauding customers, despite it being included in the Penal Code through multiple revisions from 1985 to 2015.

The “defrauding customers” charge is similar to the “defrauding to misappropriate assets” crime, but the former involves the use of tricks to misguide customers and that the customers are the only party suffering from losses as the result of the action. — VNS