HCMC official gets 30 years for land scam

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Ho Chi Minh City People's Court sentenced a former district official to 30 years in jail on Tuesday for his involvement in a major land scam.

Tran Kim Long, 52, former chairman of the Go Vap District People's Committee, was convicted of bribery and abuse of power.

The case begun in 1999 when Pham Thi Tuyet Lan, a company executive, and Duong Cong Hiep, the then deputy chief of the Go Vap District Urban Management Office, pooled their money to buy 10 hectares of agricultural land from local residents at low prices without the proper land titles.

Lan then bribed Long and other officials at the Urban Management Office with more than VND2.5 billion (US$121,500) in order to give her full legal rights over the land.

Long later asked the state-run Go Mon Real Estate Company to buy the land for an urban residential area project.

In 2001, the company paid Lan handsomely for the land VND16.6 billion ($807,000) in government cash.

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When the scam was under investigation by the Government Inspectorate and the police in 2004, Long met Chau and Lam and they agreed to pay $30,000 to bribe investigators, according to prosecutors.

In June 2010, Lan and Hiep were sentenced by the HCMC People's Court to 25 and 14 years' imprisonment, respectively, on charges of bribery and violations of land use right regulations.

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