The Investigative Security Agency under Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security has issued a wanted notice for a business tycoon, notoriously known as a ‘mafia boss’ of the central city of Da Nang, local police confirmed on Friday.
The wanted notice for Phan Van Anh Vu was signed on Thursday, one day after the Investigative Security Agency initiated legal proceedings against the 42-year-old mogul on charges of “deliberately disclosing state secret,” an official from the Da Nang police department told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
Vu, also known as Vu “nhom” (aluminum), had his house in the central Vietnamese city searched on Thursday night.
Vu was not present at his home at 82 Tran Quoc Toan Street when officers announced the decision to place him under investigation and his whereabouts remains unknown, leading to the issuing of the wanted notice.
|Phan Van Anh Vu and one of his 'problematic' projects in Da Nang. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Vu is the owner of different companies, including the I.V.C Co Ltd, 79 JSC and Bac Nam 79 JSC, and holding a stake in several other firms.
He is believed to possess numerous land plots in ‘prime locations’ across the central city, including two ‘floating restaurants’ on the city’s iconic Han River.
The tycoon is also believed to have played a role in several land transfers and the sale of publicly-owned houses during the tenure of former city Party chief Nguyen Ba Thanh and former chairman Tran Van Minh.
Da Nang voters have complained that the ‘mafia’ boss has manipulated “not only Da Nang’s economy but also the municipal administration,” and questioned as to why he has been able to have so much impact on the city.
|People watch as police search the house of Phan Van Anh Vu in Da Nang, central Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
In September, the investigative unit under the Ministry of Public Security found a multitude of legal offences revolving around the sale of publicly owned land and houses by the Da Nang administration and deiced to launch a probe into the matter.
The police requested that the Da Nang administration provide files on the sale of 31 publicly-owned houses and plots, alongside nine other projects, most of which are linked to Vu “nhom”.
Of these, there are three houses on Nguyen Thai Hoc, numbered 43, 45, and 47, that are releated to the city's former Party chief Nguyen Xuan Anh, who was removed of his post in October.
Anh and his family lived in the 43 Nguyen Thai Hoc house and uses the other two for business purposes.
According to the files, I.V.C, 79 JSC and Bac Nam 79, all owned by Vu, proposed to either lease or buy those land and houses to serve its “business and production activities” or build “company offices.”
The Da Nang administration agreed to the proposals along with a request that the properties be used under the right purposes and functions.
However, shortly after receiving the rights to the properties, the three companies failed to open any offices, instead deciding to resell some of the real estate at a profit and use the rest for other purposes.
The land plots and houses under investigation have been sold to companies under Vu’s umbrella without following proper auction regulations. As a result, the city’s revenue took a hit.
The deals were also made at prices much lower than market rates.
In October, the Da Nang administration admitted in a report to the State Inspectorate of Vietnam and Ministry of Public Security that the prices were determined in favor of the businesses.