There are insufficient grounds to file criminal charges against former HCMC chairman Le Hoang Quan in the illegal handover of a public plot of land, but the 66-year-old should be subject to strict discipline.
|Le Hoang Quan while serving as HCMC chairman – PHOTO: NLDO|
The Investigative Police Agency with the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) recently closed its investigation into the handover case of the 2,300-square-meter lot at No.15 Thi Sach Street in District 1 to former property tycoon Phan Van Anh Vu, alias Vu Nhom, and transferred its file to the Supreme People’s Procuracy for endorsement of prosecution.
Investigators urged the procuracy to charge Nguyen Huu Tin, 62, former HCMC vice chairman, and four other individuals for the infringement of regulations on the management and use of State assets, causing losses and wastefulness, in line with the 2015 Penal Code.
The others are Dao Anh Kiet, 62, former director of the HCMC Department of Natural Resources and Environment; Truong Van Ut, 49, former deputy head of the department’s Land Management Division; Le Van Thanh, 56, former deputy chief of the HCMC People’s Committee Office; and Nguyen Thanh Chuong, 44, former head of the office’s Urban Division.
Tin, who was the municipal deputy chairman in charge of construction and land management between 2011 and 2016, was well aware that the plot of land belonged to the State.
At the time, some MPS leaders had suggested the city government allow Bac Nam 79 Construction JSC, owned by Vu Nhom, to lease the prime land. Vu had claimed the land lot would be used for the activities of the ministry.
However, Tin did not make the request known to the then-chairman Quan, who was also serving as the head of a committee in charge of the rearrangement and handling of public houses and land, or Steering Committee 09.
Instead, Tin demanded the municipal Department of Natural Resources and Environment instruct the company to complete procedures for the land lease. Kiet, Ut, Thanh and Chuong had sought advice from Tin in handing over the land to the company.
A building is located at No.15 Thi Sach Street in District 1, HCMC – PHOTO: NLDO
In 2011, Steering Committee 09 sent an official letter to the HCMC People’s Committee seeking the approval of a housing and land arrangement plan that would leave HCMC House Trade Management Company in charge of managing the lease of the No. 15 Thi Sach Street property.
Meanwhile, the then-leader Tin made it possible for Bac Nam 79 Construction JSC, owned by Vu Nhom, to sign a land lease contract with the municipal Department of Natural Resources and Environment in 2015.
This company was not required to pay compensation for assets and architectural objects on the land nor rent for the land.
Investigators found that Tin had not asked then-chairman Quan for his feedback on the deal.
However, Quan and other members of the municipal government – former vice chairwoman Nguyen Thi Hong and director and deputy director of the finance department Dao Thi Huong Lan and Tran Nam Trang – were found to have received two official letters from Tin, informing them of the murky deal’s approval.
According to the Investigative Police Agency, the letters were not regarded as reports or guidelines on administrative procedures. Therefore, there was insufficient evidence to build a legal case against former chairman Quan and the three others.
However, the agency claimed that it would be necessary for the city government to take strict disciplinary action against them as they did not comment on the official letters.
The deal incurred initial losses of more than VND6.7 billion for the State budget, as Vu did not use the land for the assigned purposes.
Vu later executed a project to develop a complex that included apartments and commercial services on the land for a profit. He and senior MPS officials have been charged with abusing their power and position while on duty and for negligence with serious consequences.
Former HCMC vice chair faces new charge
Nguyen Huu Tin, former vice chairman of the HCMC People’s Committee - PHOTO: TNO
The Investigative Police Agency, under the Ministry of Public Security, has proposed charging Nguyen Huu Tin, former vice chairman of the HCMC People’s Committee, and his accomplices for their alleged involvement in the illegal handover of a land lot at 15 Thi Sach Street to former Danang-based business tycoon Phan Van Anh Vu.
The Investigative Police Agency on August 27 announced that it had completed its investigation and transferred the case to the Supreme People’s Procuracy for endorsement of prosecution.
Besides Tin, the police also suggested the Supreme People’s Procuracy prosecute Dao Anh Kiet, former director of the HCMC Department of Natural Resources and Environment; Truong Van Ut, former deputy head of the Land Management Division at the department; Nguyen Thanh Chuong, former head of the Urban Division at the HCMC People's Committee Office; and Le Van Thanh, former deputy chief of the HCMC People's Committee Office.
All of the accused face charges for the infringement of regulations on the management and use of State assets, causing losses and wastefulness, in line with Article 229 of the 2015 Penal Code.
Vu had used his company, Bac Nam 79 Construction JSC, as a front for the Ministry of Public Security, proposing the ministry direct the HCMC government to help his company lease the 2,300-square-meter land lot at 15 Thi Sach Street in HCMC’s District 1, a prime site in the city. He reasoned that the land lot would be used for the activities of the Ministry of Public Security.
In June 2015, Tin signed documents to hand over the land to Bac Nam 79 Construction JSC, causing initial losses of more than VND6.7 billion for the State budget as Vu did not use the land for the assigned purposes.
He later executed a project to develop a complex that included apartments and commercial services on the land for a profit. Vu and senior officials of the Ministry of Public Security have been charged with abusing their power and position while on duty and for irresponsibility with serious consequences.
Tin, who was the municipal deputy chairman in charge of construction, land management and environment in the 2011-2016 period, was aware of the State’s ownership of the land. The use and management of the land must be decided by the 09 Steering Committee, under the municipal Department of Finance.
However, when the proposal from Bac Nam 79 Construction JSC and the Ministry of Public Security was raised, Tin did not report it to the then HCMC chairman, Le Hoang Quan, and the 09 Steering Committee but asked the municipal Department of Natural Resources and Environment to help Vu’s company complete the required procedures.
Tin’s decisions went against the prime minister’s Decision 09/2007 on the rearrangement and handling of State-owned houses and land and the 2013 Land Law.
Thanh, Chuong, Kiet and Ut had consulted with Tin on decisions to hand over the land lot to Vu.
In related news, the Investigative Police Agency on August 27 filed charges against Lam Nguyen Khoi, former deputy director of the HCMC Planning and Investment; Nguyen Quang Minh, former head of the department’s Infrastructure Division; and Nguyen Lan Chau, an official of the Land Management Division of the HCMC Department of Natural Resources and Environment, for their involvement in a land misuse case involving the Saigon Beer, Alcohol and Beverage Corporation (Sabeco).
They were placed under house arrest to serve an investigation into violations of regulations on the management and use of State assets, specifically a prime location at No.2-4-6 Hai Ba Trung Street in HCMC’s District 1, causing losses and wastefulness.
In 2008, the city government handed over the 6,000-square-meter land lot to Sabeco to develop a complex of apartments, offices and commercial services, called Saigon Me Linh Tower, with an estimated investment of over VND2.4 trillion.
In 2015, Sabeco cooperated with three other investors to execute the project but announced its withdrawal a year later. The handover of the land to Sabeco without holding an auction was illegal, causing losses for the State budget.
The Ministry of Public Security had earlier pressed charges against Tin and his accomplices for their alleged involvement in this case.
HCMC accepts resignation of former sidewalk cleanup captain
Vice chairman of District 1 Doan Ngoc Hai (R) instructs law enforcement officers to clean up the sidewalks for pedestrians in downtown HCMC – PHOTO: VOV
Former vice chairman of District 1 Doan Ngoc Hai, who is known for his campaign to clean up the sidewalks for pedestrians, is to be relieved of his executive post at a State-owned firm, where he resigned several hours after his appointment.
On Wednesday, the Standing Board of the HCMC Party Committee formally accepted his letter of resignation. The HCMC Department of Internal Affairs later sent a request to the HCMC People’s Committee to consider his resignation as a regulatory procedure.
The 50-year-old Hai was appointed as deputy general director of the Saigon Construction Corporation on June 4. However, he turned in his resignation on the same day.
He explained that he had no professional skills or experience in the construction sector, so he could not fulfill the tasks of the role. He added that he could not risk grave consequences in working a job that was not “his forte, expertise or passion.”
“This would damage the prestige of the Party and cause losses of the people’s money and assets,” Hai wrote in the letter.
While waiting for the city government’s approval, Hai took a two-month unpaid leave.
This is the second time Hai has tendered his resignation in less than two years. In January 2018, Hai wanted to resign from all positions in the District 1 authority, including as a vice chairman.
The move was intended to keep his promise made at the start of his campaign that he would resign if order was not restored to the downtown district’s sidewalks.
“My actions interfered with the interests of many parking lots, hotels, restaurants and households that had reaped huge profits from the district’s sidewalks, as well as those of a significant number of officials who have a symbiotic relationship with these violators,” Hai wrote in the letter.
However, he withdrew his resignation in May last year.
Hai claimed at the time that he stood ready to work hard even in dangerous and difficult conditions to contribute to the city’s development.
In his June 4 letter, he noted that he had earlier proposed the municipal government allow him to serve as vice chairman of the outlying coastal district of Can Gio or as an official of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee there.
However, the city government had intended to ask him to hold the post of deputy head of the municipal Food Safety Board or general director of the State-owned Saigon Jewelry Co., Ltd, even though he had no expertise or experience related to these jobs.
Hai had worked for the District 1 Party Committee and People’s Committee and held the posts of chairman of the Cau Ong Lanh Ward People’s Committee and head of the District 1 Inspection Committee before serving as a vice chairman of the district.
In 2016, Hai mounted a campaign to clean up the sidewalks for pedestrians. He aggressively handled all violations by bringing down illegal structures on the sidewalks, towing away automobiles illegally parked along the roads or sidewalks and imposed heavy fines on violators.
Other localities were inspired by the campaign to launch their own movements, which drew high praise from the prime minister. However, these activities were short-lived. SGT