A former deputy chairman of Khanh Hoa Province was arrested Thursday for handing over land plots to businesses without bids, costing the state hundreds of billions of dong (VND1 billion = $43,000).
Dao Cong Thien, 59, was arrested by the Khanh Hoa anti-corruption police to be investigated for violating land management regulations.
Vo Tan Thai, 60, former director of the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, has also been detained as Thien’s accomplice in the wrongdoings.
In 2014, the Khanh Hoa People’s Committee agreed to let construction and real estate firm Thanh Yen JSC carry out a construction project for a provincial political school in Nha Trang worth VND149 billion ($6.4 million) without an auction process.
The project’s capital was recouped through a land fund spanning over 7,300 square meters in the beach town.
In July 2016, the provincial People’s Committee approved selling the land plot to the firm for VND22.5 million per square meter for residential lands and VND7.8 million per square meter for lands intended for business and service purposes.
The total value of the land plot was determined to be over VND114 billion, which was much cheaper than the market price, resulting in losses to the state.
Thien was the chairman of the land evaluation council of Khanh Hoa at that time, responsible for approving land rents and handovers. Thai had to advise the provincial People’s Committee on land types and land planning.
Also in 2016, the People’s Committee approved construction firm Golden Top Nha Trang as the main investor for the Nha Trang Golden Gate project, which spans over 14,220 square meters and includes hotels and apartments. The project has a total capital of VND1.25 trillion.
In February 2016, the committee also decided to hand over or rent out 20,110 square meters of land for businesses to build hotels, malls and tourism apartments.
Thien was dismissed as the deputy chairman of Khanh Hoa People’s Committee for the 2016-2021 period in 2019, while Thai was disciplined before resigning from his position.