Phan Văn Anh Vũ appears at the court on Thursday. — VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — Two former chairmen of central Đà Nẵng City's People’s Committee and a real estate mogul went on trial on Thursday in Hà Nội for illegally acquiring State-owned land, causing losses of more than VNĐ22 trillion (US$956.5 million).
Trần Văn Minh, 65, chairman of the city's People’s Committee for the 2006-11 term, and his successor Văn Hữu Chiến, 66, are accused of breaking management regulations and causing losses due to violations of land management.
Phan Văn Anh Vũ, 45, nicknamed Vũ nhôm, was accused of similar charges. Vũ is former chairman of the management board of the 79 Construction JSC, 79 North South Construction JSC, I.V.C Ltd Company and Nhất Gia Phúc Investment JSC.
Eighteen other defendants were also present in court. Among them, nine were former leaders of Đà Nẵng’s administration.
Twenty-six lawyers attended trial which will run until January 15.
According to the indictment, the case was extremely serious and had caused public concern.
Minh and Chiến were tasked with managing State assets and public land during their time in office between 2006 and 2014.
For various motives, the two men and their accomplices seriously violated regulations on the management and use of State-owned property and land management.
According to police, Vũ worked behind the scenes to set up five real estate agencies under either his name or family members between 2002 and 2017. He targeted public land in the coastal city and managed to acquire 22 State-owned buildings and seven land projects by bypassing the public bidding process.
Vũ was able to buy buildings and land at a much lower price than those regulated by the Đà Nẵng People’s Committee with the help of two top city officials.
Minh and Chiến repeatedly signed orders to illegally transfer land use rights over to Vũ, helping Vũ acquire 15 out of 22 State-owned buildings and six out of seven land projects.
A 29ha project located in the Đa Phước International Urban Area caused a loss of more than VNĐ11.2 trillion ($487 million).
Twenty out of the 21 defendants admitted to their violations.
Vũ nhôm was the only one to claim he was innocent.
Lawyer Trần Việt Hùng for defendant Văn Hữu Chiến asked the jury to allow the use of confidential documents as evidence to defend his client.
The judge agreed but said the documents would not be published by the court.
Lawyer Trần Quang Sơn for defendant Văn Hữu Chiến proposed the court summon current chairman of Đà Nẵng's People’s Committee Huỳnh Đức Thơ and another former chairman of the People’s Committee Hoàng Tuấn Anh to clarify their involvement in land at Bạch Đằng in Hải Châu District.
The judge said the court would summon these leaders if necessary.
Among the defendants, Vũ nhôm has been imprisoned for several serious criminal offences. In November 2018, the Hà Nội Superior People's Court sentenced him to eight years in prison for deliberately disclosing State secrets.
He was also charged with tax evasion, abuse of power to appropriate assets and violations of State regulations on the management and use of State assets, resulting in serious losses. — VNS