Northern Vietnam officials face charges for misuse of land

TN News

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Police in Vinh Phuc Province have asked the local prosecutor's office to press charges against eight provincial officials who had received cash and luxury items to secretly turn agricultural land into an urban construction project.

Investigations found the officials had "abused their power" and were "being irresponsible," causing damages worth nearly VND30 billion (US$1.44 million) concerning the 25 hectares of arable land, Tuoi Tre reported Tuesday.

The accused include Nguyen Van Hoa, 65, former vice chairman of the Vinh Phuc People's Committee, and two former Party secretaries and chairmen of the province's capital town Vinh Yen Nguyen Ngoc Quyen, 54, and Lai Huu Lan, 63.

The others accused include former district and ward chairmen, and finance, environment officials of Vinh Yen.

Local residents Nguyen Anh Quan and Duong Dinh Tam, both 42, have been accused of involvement, but Quan was in the US after an Interpol arrest in February for embezzlement worth VND500 billion concerning his construction investment firm Beta BQP.

According to police, Quan wanted to acquire some land for an urban project in Vinh Phuc, but the Hanoian was not a local, so he asked Tam to represent him.

In 2006, the two approached Lan, asking him to help them obtain some land labeled "agricultural," which would allow them to pay less, according to investigators.

The transaction was not made known to Vinh Phuc provincial units, though there's a regulation that any project using more than one hectare of agricultural land must be approved by the provincial administration, legislature and Party unit.

Lan received a  Toyota Camry worth VND1 billion ($48,000) for his help. Others received cash and gifts including quality wine, and some were promised shares of the land, according to police.

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