HN People’s Court sentences former Minister of Industry and Trade to 10 years in prison

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Vũ Huy Hoàng, 69, former Minister of Industry and Trade.— VNA/VNS Phạm Kiên

HÀ NỘI — The Hà Nội People’s Court on Monday sentenced Vũ Huy Hoàng, 69, former Minister of Industry and Trade, to 10 years in prison for “violating regulations on the management and use of State assets, causing losses and wastefulness”.

The sentence was made at the appeal trial for Hoàng and three other defendants in a case, which related to the ministry, Saigon Beer – Alcohol – Beverage JSC (Sabeco) and HCM City, causing a loss of over VNĐ2.7 trillion (US$118.9 million) for the State during the 2007-16 period.

Also at the court, Phan Chí Dũng, 65, former head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Light Industry Department was sentenced to eight years in prison for “violating regulations on the management and use of State assets, causing losses and wastefulness”.

Lâm Nguyên Khôi, former deputy director of HCM City’s Department of Planning and Investment, was sentenced to four years in prison and Lê Quang Minh, former head of the department’s Infrastructure Investment and Development Office was sentenced to three years in prison for “violating regulations on land management”.

At the appeal, all defendants had their sentences reduced compared to those received at the first-instance trial. Both Hoàng and Dũng had their sentence cut by one year while Khôi and Minh had a reduction of six months each.

Previously, Hoàng and three other defendants appealed against the first-instance sentences, asking for lesser punishment.

The reason for the reduction was that the defendants were elderly and terminally ill. Hoàng suffers from prostate cancer and has been receiving treatment, the trial panel said.

The defendants were judged to be guilty of wrongdoings and there was no profit motive, so the appellate court decided to partially reduce the punishments, the trial panel said.

The defendants had no criminal record. They had spent many years working in the sector, gaining many achievements, the trial panel said.

Due to these reasons, it was necessary to reduce the punishment for the defendants, the trial panel said.

According to the indictment, the Saigon Beer – Alcohol – Beverage JSC (Sabeco), which is under the MoIT’s management, was given more than 6,000 sq.m of land at No. 2-4-6 on Hai Bà Trưng street in downtown HCM City for production and business purposes.

After that, Sabeco carried out procedures for land use rights and used capital contributions to set up Sabeco Pearl, a joint venture between the firm and a number of private enterprises, to implement a project building a six-star hotel, a trade and convention centre, and office space for lease on the land.

After Sabeco completed legal procedures for the joint venture’s investment, the defendants ordered the company to transfer Sabeco’s stake in this project to the private enterprises in the joint venture, causing a loss of over VNĐ2.7 trillion for the State.

The trial panel said Hoàng was the Minister of Industry and Trade for the 2007-16 period, taking full responsibility and managing all aspects of the ministry’s activities, so, he must be responsible for the main role in the case.

When he was still in office, Hoàng was well aware of resolutions on banning investment outside the industry and knew Sabeco had no financial ability.

However, he violated the regulations when he approved the policy for Sabeco to enter into a joint venture to establish Sabeco Pearl and then transfer the land use rights to Sabeco Pearl to implement the project.

The trial panel also announced the handing over of the land lot at No 2-4-6 Hai Bà Trưng Street, HCM City, to the People’s Committee of HCM City for handling according to the law. — VNS

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