Notary agency head dies of drowning: police

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More than a month after head of a Hanoi notary office involved in notarizing fake real estate documents was found dead, Hanoi police on Wednesday said he had died of drowning.


It's highly likely that Nguyen Minh Hai, head of Viet Tin notary office, had committed suicide for the affair his office is involved in, police said.


Hai, 56, was found dead on April 12 on the Red River. He left home and went missing on April 9 after being summoned by the Department of Justice the same day to discuss what his office had to do with the fake documents.


There had been suspicion that customers of the fake documents had killed Hai to suppress evidence but officials said they found no evidence of a murder.


His wife Phuong Mai on Wednesday told local news website Vnexpress there were bruises over his body. "They were explained as having been caused by collision when his body floated in the river," Mai said.


Earlier, Thang Long notary office also in Hanoi reported that "someone" had faked Thang Long's stamps to notarize contracts granting themselves authority over some real estate properties and then had the copies notarized at Viet Tin.


Someone might have done that to usurp the right to sell or transfer others' lands and houses, Thang Long's head Tran Quang Son told Hanoi Department of Justice.


Pham Thanh Cao, an official with the Hanoi Department of Justice said the case could involve black market credit and loan sharks.


Creditors in the underworld always ask the borrowers to mortgage their land or assets. Then they fake documents to grant themselves authority over the properties, Cao said.


Police have put out a warrant for Ha Thuy Linh, a local 32-year-old resident, who earned dozens of billions of dong from having Hai notarize the fake documents.


Following Viet Tin's case, Hanoi authorities have ordered inspections of all notary offices in the city.


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