Nguyen Thanh Tai, an ex-deputy head of Ho Chi Minh City, was arrested on Saturday to serve an investigation into his role in the cheap lease of a valuable public land plot in the downtown area, which could have contributed much more to the local budget if the leasing process had been done properly.
Tai, 66, was deputy chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City administration during the 2011-15 tenure.
The former city leader is allegedly responsible for the improper leasing of a 5,000 square meter land plot on Le Duan Street in District 1.
Vietnamese police on the same day started legal proceedings against the case and against Tai over the charges of "violating regulations on state asset management and use, causing losses and wastefulness".
Tai, now in police custody, is being investigated for his alleged role in the improper leasing of the ‘golden piece of land’ on Le Duan Street.
|The land plot situated at 8-12 Le Duan Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City is currently used as a parking lot. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
The arrest of Tai came seven months after the state inspectorate released a report on the leasing in May.
According to the report, the Ho Chi Minh City administration had leased the land plot to a private entity without going through a proper bidding process as required. The administration had also violated the law on investment and the law on state property management by choosing the lessee without organizing an auction.
The land, under state management, was leased to a lessee that did not have sufficient financial capacity for implementing projects on the property, according to the state inspectorate.
The government inspectorate has asked the central government to take back the land plot in question and have it leased properly to rake in revenue for the state budget.
The inspection conclusion also said Tai should take responsibility for the improper leasing.
Tai told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper in an interview after the state inspectorate released the report that he was not in charge of urban management during his time in office as standing deputy chairman of the municipal administration.
Tai was only assigned to take over urban management in 2008, when the man in charge, deputy chairman Nguyen Huu Tin, started to study aboard.
The former deputy chairman admitted to making a mistake for being too hasty in approving relevant processes to lease the land.
He underlined that he would take the blame.
The former official also asserted he had not benefited from the lease or let money manipulate his decision.
|Vehicles are parked on the piece of land in downtown Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Also on Saturday, police initiated legal proceedings against Nguyen Hoai Nam, secretary of the Party Committee of Ho Chi Minh City's District 2, Dao Anh Kiet, former director of the municipal environment department, and Truong Van Ut, former head of the department's land management division.
Nam is banned from leaving his place of residence during the investigation.
In the meantime, Kiet and Ut were taken in police custody on charges of "violating regulations on land management" and "violating regulations on state asset management and use, causing losses and wastefulness".
|(L-R) Nguyen Hoai Nam, Dao Van Kiet, Truong Van Ut are seen in this photo combination provided by the police|
They are being probed for their involvement in the mismanagement of a land plot on Hai Ba Trung Street and another piece of land on Thi Sach Street, both in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
The cases are related to a fugitive Vietnamese tycoon, Phan Van Anh Vu. Vu, who fled to Singapore but was arrested in Vietnam earlier this year, was jailed for nine years in July for deliberate disclosure of state secrets.