HCM CITY — The appeal trial of former HCM City vice chairman Nguyễn Thành Tài and four others charged with "violation of regulations on management and use of State assets, causing losses and wastefulness" began on Monday at the HCM City People's Court.
The 69-year-old former official was previously found guilty of leasing out a prime public land lot at 8-12 Lê Duẩn Street in District 1 without competitive bidding.
The 4,896sq.m land lot is State property that had long been earmarked for a five-star hotel and shopping mall. In 2007 the Government ordered an auction to pick an investor, not a joint venture, to carry out the project.
However, Tài approved the HCM City Housing Management Company to establish a joint venture with four companies owned by the Ministry of Industry and Trade to develop the project.
While it was supposed to contribute half of the capital and the four ministry companies the rest, the HCM City Housing Management Company claimed it did not have enough money and only contributed 20 per cent, while the remaining 30 per cent was brought in by the Mayflower Investment Company Ltd.
After that, a company called Lavenue Investment JSC was established as a joint venture between all the four companies to carry out the project, with Lê Thị Thanh Thúy as its chairwoman.
The companies then transferred their shares among themselves, turning the land lot into a private property.
Since the case was discovered and the lot returned to the State, the financial compensation required from the four people accused has been reduced from VNĐ1.927 trillion ($85 million) to VNĐ4.7 billion ($207,147).
The HCM City's People's Court demanded that the People's Committee revoke all certificates for land use rights and related documents issued to the Lavenue company.
In September last year, Tài was sentenced to eight years in prison for violating regulations on management and use of State assets which resulted in a loss of VNĐ1.927 trillion to the treasury.
The four other defendants were sentenced to prison on the same charge, including Lê Thị Thanh Thuý, president of Mayflower Investment Company Ltd and Lavenue Investment JSC (five years), Đào Anh Kiệt, former director of the HCM City Department of Natural Resources and Environment (five years), Nguyễn Hoài Nam, former secretary of the District 2 Party unit (four years), and Trương Văn Út, former deputy head of the department's land management division (three years).
After the first-instance trial, defendants Tài, Nam, Kiệt and Út appealed for a review of their sentences. Nam, Kiệt and Út also appealed against compensation of more than VNĐ4.7 billion. Thúy appealed the entire first-instance trial.
The trial is expected to end on December 1. — VNS
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