HCMC – Nguyen Thanh Tai, former vice chairman of HCMC, and his four accomplices have been charged with serious violations in the leasing of land in the central business district, causing a total loss of VND2 trillion, said Thanh Nien Online newspaper.
The HCMC People’s Court is expected to start a trial against Tai, who served as vice chairman of the city between 2008 and 2011, from September 16-21.
The other four are Le Thi Thanh Thuy, former chairperson of May Flower Investment Company and Lavenue Investment Company; Dao Anh Kiet, former director of the HCMC Department of Natural Resources and Environment; Nguyen Hoai Nam, former secretary of the District 2 Party unit, and Truong Van Ut, former department head of the department’s land, natural resources and environment office.
They have been charged with infringing regulations over the management and use of State properties, leading to losses and wastefulness. The officials are responsible for the city’s decision to lease out a land lot at 8-12 Le Duan Boulevard in District 1 without competitive bidding, causing multimillion-dollar losses to the city. Some 11 lawyers will defend the accused in court.
According to indictments, the plot, covering over 4,800 square meters, was earmarked for the construction of a five-star hotel and a mall. The city authorities should have carried out a bidding process to select a prestigious and experienced investor.
Instead, they allowed the establishment of a joint stock company in 2010 to carry out the project following requests from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, units belonging to whom had been leasing the land. The HCMC Housing Management and Trading Company held a 50% stake in the new company and Lavenue Investment JSC and the ministry’s units owned the rest.
Two months after incorporation, the companies under the ministry sold 80% of their shares in Lavenue to two private companies, Mayflower and Kinh Do Investment Company.
In June 2011, Lavenue received an approval from the city government to build the hotel by paying the city nearly VND700 billion. However, no construction has taken place ever since and the lot is now used to park cars.
The State inspectors found that the transaction showed “special favor” to the private companies. It violated Vietnam’s laws on bidding, public asset management as well as regulations on land use, public land prices and public fund management.
Law enforcement agencies found that Tai had a personal relationship with Le Thi Thanh Thuy and approved to lease out the land lot to Thuy’s company without a bidding process. Kiet, Nam and Ut recommended that Tai approve these illegal decisions despite knowing that the documents relevant to the project were still absent.