Monday , May 27 2024

Province chairman arrested for facilitating Vietnam’s biggest sand mining scandal

Chairman of An Giang Province in the Mekong Delta has been arrested for using his power to help a north-south expressway contractor to commit the biggest sand-mining scandal in the country.

Nguyen Thanh Binh, chairman of An Giang Peoples Committee. Photo by  An Giang Peoples Committee

Nguyen Thanh Binh, chairman of An Giang People’s Committee. Photo by An Giang People’s Committee

Nguyen Thanh Binh was detained by the Ministry of Public Security on Monday for prosecution for power abuse.

Binh was accused of using his title to grant a license to Trung Hau 68 JSC to illegally explore, exploit and adjust capacity at the sand mines in My Hiep and Binh Phuoc Xuan Communes in An Giang’s Cho Moi District. The investigation unit believed that this license helped the company illegally gain significant profit, causing damage to the government’s assets.

Binh, 59, has a doctorate in education and was director of An Giang’s Department of Education and Training. His next job was secretary of Tan Chau Town Party Committee, then deputy chairman of An Giang People’s Committee from 2011 to 2016. Since May 2019, Binh has been holding the position of chairman of An Giang People’s Committee.

Previously, the police have arrested Tran Anh Thu, deputy chairman of An Giang People’s Committee, for allegedly taking a bribe of VND1.2 billion ($50,000) to let Trung Hau to exploit sand beyond the allowed capacity. Nguyen Viet Tri, director of An Giang’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment, was also accused of taking bribes.

Among the remaining people who are facing prosecution in the case, there are seven former officials of An Giang’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment and the Monitoring Center who were investigated for abusing their position and power while on official duties. Le Quang Binh, chairman of the board of directors and general director of Trung Hau 68, was investigated for “violating rules in exploring and exploiting natural resources” and “giving bribes.”

According to the police, the company was issued a license to mine 1.5 million cubic meters of sand to supply for the construction of four sections of the North-South Expressway.

Authorities believed that Trung Hau 68 chairman Le Quang Binh took advantage of the granted license and directed the exploitation of more than 4.7 million cubic meters of sand valued at VND253 billion on the market. The company left this off the books without declaring and paying financial obligations for the exceeding amount of sand exploited.

According to the allegations, in order to sell illegally mined sand to gain illegal profits, Binh and his accomplices used intermediary companies they established to manage and buy false input invoices. Binh then split the amount of money collected with a number of officials.

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