Chinese purchase of land in central Vietnam illegal: authorities

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Authorities in the central province of Binh Thuan have concluded that a Chinese businessman's purchase of more than 60 hectares of land from local residents was illegal, Tuoi Tre reported Friday.

In a report sent to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Binh Thuan People's Committee Chairman Nguyen Ngoc Hai said that Nguyen Long Son Ltd. Co., headed by Zhong Heng Shan, bought the land from locals via Pham Phu Thanh with handwritten notes certifying the purchase, so the transaction was not legal.

The lands totaled 60.8 hectares, not more than 100 hectares as reported in the media, Hai said.

According to the provincial authorities, the land included 8,522 square meters of land that Thanh owned. Last year he was allowed to switch the area's purpose from growing rice to selling farm vehicles.

They said while the district authorities' permission to make the switch was right, it was not "strictly" in line with regulated procedures, given that the land use plans for 2011-2015 had not been approved then.

Binh Thuan's authorities, therefore, have asked the People's Committee in Ham Thuan Bac District, where the purchase happened, to review its actions and discipline related agencies, Tuoi Tre reported.

In the meantime, Zhong and Thanh have ended their "contracts" and returned money and land to each other, the newspaper quoted Hai as saying.

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The case came to light when on April 24, Zhong sent a letter to Hai, saying that he had signed contracts with Thanh to buy over 1.2 hectares of the latter's rice land in Ham Duc Commune, and 100 hectares of other agricultural lands in Ham Chinh Commune.

The land in Ham Chinh belonged to five families who asked Thanh to act as their representative in the transaction with Zhong.

Zhong, who planned to build a factory and a dragon fruit farm on the lands, said he paid Thanh VND13.5 billion (US$640,900), but Thanh had not yet given him the land use certificates.

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