|Vice chairman of the Trà Vinh City People’ Committee Trần Trường Sơn is arrested on Wednesday. — VNA/VNS Photo|
TRÀ VINH — Two top officials of Trà Vinh City were arrested on Wednesday as part of a probe into a land tax evasion ring that caused estimated losses of nearly VNĐ120 billion (US$5.2 million) to the Government.
Wednesday’s arrests meant that the number of people taken into custody for their alleged involvement in the case has risen to 11.
Diệp Văn Thạnh, 51, former chairman of the Trà Vinh City People’ Committee, and vice chairman Trần Trường Sơn, 43, would be detained for four months for further investigation. They were accused of breaches in managing State assets causing losses and wastefulness, according to the municipal police.
The fraud only came to light when the Party’s Central Inspection Commission last year scrutinised the amount of tax exempted for hundreds of households in Trà Vinh who applied to switch their land use purpose from farming to housing.
According to the law, poor households and families acknowledged of war merits are subject to a complete tax waiver when changing their land use purpose.
The inspection, however, exposed that many applicants were not the true owners of their land. It turned out that some land brokers took advantage of the policy to borrow the names of those subject to tax exemption. Each was paid between VNĐ5 million and VNĐ10 million for a land lot registered under their names.
The land brokers then submitted the fraudulent documents to land officials for approval.
The tax loss was estimated at around VNĐ120 billion.
Police in June and July this year arrested four brokers and five former officials of the city’s Division of Natural Resources and Environment.
Investigation into the case is ongoing. — VNS