One of Vietnam's richest businessmen on Monday filed a lawsuit against the Finance Department in Lam Dong Province for taking back 11 villas that he said his company had leased to build a resort.
Doan Nguyen Duc, chairman of Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group, told local news website VnExpress that he was "shocked" when the authorities of the central highlands province made the decision.
"It's funny because the 11 villas were taken back while my down payments for land clearance so far have been ignored," he said.
According to Hoang Anh Gia Lai, the company began to pursue a plan to develop 20 old villas in the resort town of Da Lat into a four-star resort in 2002. It signed a contract with Lam Dong Province Finance Department to lease the properties, with a total area of nearly 46,000 square meters, for 50 years.
Fifteen of the villas were transferred to the company and construction work was finished on eight of them, Duc said.
The province, however, decided to take back 11 of the villas in September last year and assigned them to another company in Ho Chi Minh City.
Lawyer Le Thi Hoai Giang, legal representative for Hoang Anh Gia Lai, said the company demands that the Lam Dong Province's Finance Department fulfills its contract. In case the contract is terminated by the department, all financial obligations have to be paid, she said.
Director of the Finance Department, Nguyen Van Yen, told VnExpress that the decision to take back the villas was made "in accordance with legal regulations."
Yen said the resort project was delayed and the conditions of the villas had deteriorated.
The villas were supposed to be put into business no later than 12 months after their transfer. However, some of them had been left untouched for nearly three years, Yen said.