Former chairman of Danang City Tran Van Minh speaks before the court makes its ruling at a first-instance trial on January 13. (Photo: VNA)
Former chairman of Danang City Tran Van Minh and his successor, Van Huu Chien, were sentenced to jail terms of 17 and 12 years, respectively, for their involvement in the acquisition of public land by Phan Van Anh Vu.
The High-level People’s Court of Hanoi City made its ruling today, January 13 against the two ex-leaders and 19 others, who were involved in the murky transfers of 22 public housing and land plots and seven real estate projects in the central coastal city, reported Thanh Nien newspaper.
The 64-year-old Minh was given 12 years in prison for breaking regulations on the management and use of State properties, leading to losses and wastefulness, and five years for breaching regulations on land management, taking his total sentence to 17 years.
Meanwhile, Chien, 66, was imprisoned for nine years for economic mismanagement and three years for land management violations, so he will have to spend a total of 12 years behind bars.
The 44-year-old property mogul Vu, for the same two charges, was jailed for 17 years and eight years, respectively, bringing his total jail term to 25 years. However, he is still serving a 30-year sentence for other cases, the maximum term that can be imposed under Vietnamese law.
Investigators found that Vu and his family members had set up five real estate firms between 2002 and 2017 with the aim of acquiring public land and properties on many plots of land in the central city.
The firms were offered purchase prices significantly lower than those set by the city government, so the group was able to make high profits.
The panel of judges noted that as the city’s chairman between 2006 and 2011, Minh had signed the documents and decisions approving the sales of public houses with a 10% reduction in land use fees and illegal transfer of land use rights.
He also enabled the handover of many plots of land and housing complexes to Vu’s firms at concessional prices without going through the due process of an auction.
His misconduct helped Vu and his firms acquire 15 out of 18 housing complexes and land plots, in violation of prevailing regulations, leading to a total loss of over VND2.1 trillion (US$93 million) at the time of prosecution.
Among the seven property projects, then-chairman Minh allegedly asked his subordinates to issue legal documents and speed up the completion of procedures to allow the projects to be transferred to Vu at preferential prices with no-bid contracts. These projects cost the State more than VND19.6 trillion (US$846 million).
While serving as deputy chairman at the time, Chien followed the instructions of his direct superior Minh and thus approved a number of land transfers and their concessional prices, as well as some property projects owned by Vu and his firms.
When Chien led the city as its chairman from 2011 to 2014, he and his staff completed procedures for the illegal handover of two housing complexes and some land plots. His involvement led to losses of VND2.4 trillion (US$104 million) across 15 complexes.
The court ruled that Minh had played a major role in these deals and Chien was his key accomplice, so they were given stiff penalties.
Meanwhile, Vu was the main instigator of the disorganization of the municipal government, leading to many police officers being charged. He committed his crimes as an accomplice but should be subject to a harsh penalty.
Vu moonlighted as an operative for the General Department of Intelligence with the Ministry of Public Security in 2009 and left the organization in 2017.
During that time, according to the court, he abused his position and urged the ministry’s then-leaders to issue an official letter that framed his firms as fronts for the ministry’s professional operations. His misconduct caused a total loss of some VND22 trillion (US$949 million).