Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on August 11 signed a decision to suspend the works of Mr. Nguyen Duc Chung, chairman of the People’s Committee of Hanoi.
The development followed rumors that said Mr. Chung would be disciplined by the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV).
The Aug 11’s Decision of the PM said the suspension is to “verify, investigate and clarify Mr. Chung’s responsibilities involved in a number of cases in accordance with the law.”
The time of suspension from work is 90 days from the date of issuance of the above decision.
Thanh Nien newspaper reported that the Politburo had decided to suspend Chung’s positions in the city’s Party Executive Committee and the Standing Committee of the Hanoi Party Committee and as deputy secretary of the Hanoi Party Committee.
Before being elected to these positions, Mr. Chung was the secretary of the Party Committee and the director of Hanoi Police Department.
During his work, he was awarded: First Class Victory Medal (2009, 2012); Third Class Victory Medal (1998, 2001, 2009); Armed Forces Hero (October 2004).
Three related cases?
Tuoi Tre Newspaper said that they talked with Major General To An Xo, chief of the Office cum spokesman of the Ministry of Public Security on August 11 and he said that, according to the initial investigation, Mr. Nguyen Duc Chung was accused of involving in three criminal cases.
First, the case of “Smuggling” and “Violation of accounting regulations causes serious consequences” as well as “Money laundering” and “Violation of bidding regulations causing serious consequences” occurred at Nhat Cuong Trading and Technical Services Co. (Nhat Cuong Company), the Hanoi Department of Planning and Investment, and a number of related units.
Second is the case of “Violation of the regulations on the management and use of State property causing loss and waste” occurred in Hanoi City.
The third is the case of “Seizing state secret documents” that the Security Agency investigated, the Ministry of Public Security has prosecuted the case.
Previously there was a decision to probe the criminal case and arrest two officers under the direct supervision of Mr. Chung and an officer of the Ministry of Public Security.
The Supreme People’s Procuracy on July 22 approved the decision to probe the three accused persons and temporary detention order for them.
The two accused are close to Chung are Nguyen Anh Ngoc, an officer of the Editorial Secretariat, the Assistant Team, and his driver named Nguyen Hoang Trung.
The third accused is Pham Quang Dung, a police officer of the Police Department for Investigation of Economic Crime, Corruption, and Smuggling of the Ministry of Public Security (C03).
“The Investigation Security Agency of the Ministry of Public Security probed the three accused, arresting them who were said to have appropriated confidential documents in the case of “Nhat Cuong Company” from the ministry’s Police Investigation Agency. The police are conducting the investigation, according to the newsletter posted on the website of the Ministry of Public Security.
A deputy minister of Public Security at the end of June said this is a “very serious” corruption accusation that has been monitored and directed by the Central Steering Committee on anti-corruption.
Secretary General and State President Nguyen Phu Trong is the Head of this Committee.
The Ministry of Public Security probed Nhat Cuong case in May 2019, and C03 is the unit carrying out the investigation of the case.
There are 26 accused and the main suspect is Bui Quang Huy, general director of Nhat Cuong.
Huy, currently being wanted internationally, has been charged with four accusations, including smuggling and money laundering.
Bui Quang Huy General Director Nhat Cuong is being wanted internationally, and his brother Bui Quoc Viet was recently arrested for smuggling.
Bui Quoc Viet – Bui Quang Huy’s brother, was also recently arrested for smuggling charges.
Minister of Public Security General To Lam once said “by all means, whatever we can, we will do it to arrest Mr. Bui Quang Huy.”
Among the accused are the former chief of the Office of the Hanoi Party Committee, former director of the City Department of Planning and Investment and its chief of Office.
Nhat Cuong Company case has been widely reported by the press in the past few months after business activities, winning bids … related to a number of projects in Hanoi City that are believed to have committed mistakes.
Talking to VOA, Mr. Nguyen Quang A, a political observer and dissident in Hanoi, said that the fact that Mr. Chung was “chopped up” prior to the upcoming Party Congress is more likely put an end to his political career.
Mr. A said that public opinion in Hanoi for many months ‘talked a lot about this man and the competition and hatred between senior state officials.”
“Fighting is an obvious story of the CPV from old times,” argued Mr. A. “Especially in the period prior to the party’s congresses as the factions intensify fighting to compete for positions of power.”
“Mr. Chung was a police general who became the city’s chairman, so it is not known that the fighting stems from within the police, one side is fighting the other,” he added.
According to Mr. A, when Chung’s driver and secretary were arrested for investigation, people can guess the end of Mr. Chung so people did not feel surprised.”
Evaluating Mr. Chung’s works after 5 years in power, Mr. A thinks that Mr. Chung is ‘dynamic and aggressive.”
“He’s pretty aggressive. He worked quite hard, especially against the last Covid-19 pandemic and some other jobs such as planting three in the city’s center,” said Mr. A.
“The tough measures of the government of Vietnam in general and Hanoi in particular, although not appropriate in terms of human rights standards, but the anti-pandemic affairs are generally considered good,” said Mr. A.
Activists criticized Mr. Chung for handling the land dispute in Dong Tam village, My Duc district, three years ago. At that time, Mr. Le Dinh Kinh, the leader of the movement to claiming land, had his leg broken and Dong Tam villagers arrested 38 officials of My Duc district and the riot police. To resolve the deadlock, Mr. Chung promised the Dong Tam people that the “authorities won’t probe the abduction” but later failed to keep his promise.
“He’s been working on it fairly quietly, but he abandoned his promise to the land petitioners. I wonder if it was because his superiors forced him to do so,” said Mr. A.
Regarding the possibility that Mr. Chung is innocent or not, Mr. A said: “There is no such thing as being innocent. There is no state official innocent and Mr. Chung was not an exception.”
“The regime makes state officials corrupted so Mr. Chung cannot escape the filthy corruption,” said Mr. A, referring to the system of the Vietnamese communist government.
General comment about Mr. Chung, A said that “even though he has done some good things but it is not enough to make up for the failure in Đồng Tâm.”
Political observer Quang Huu Minh said that the problem is that Mr. Chung does not have the political support needed to sit in the chair of Hanoi chairman.
Mr. Minh explained further: “Actually, Chung is a soldier. So in positions where aggressive fighting is needed, Chung is reasonable, and he should only do it in that position. When he returned to work in charge of managing a capital city like Hanoi, he did not reassure the party. Subordinate officers, many of them reacted.
The way Mr. Chung let his wife work at Minh Hoa supermarket, let his son do the purchase of chemicals directly in the Ho Tay water treatment project. Those are the things that the chairman of the capital should not. That offends subordinates. As for the superiors, there has been a rumor for a long time that Chung has allowed Nhat Cuong to manage Hanoi’s residential data project. Many people think that Nhat Cuong has been backed by Chung and China holds a stake in the firm. If Hanoi’s population data is a national secret with Chinese capital, then not good.”
When Mr. Chung will be arrested?
Immediately after his secretary and driver were arrested, the public said that Mr. Chung would be detained soon. According to journalist Ngo Nhat Dang, two people related to the Hanoi chairman were arrested with the allegation of “Disclosing state secrets,” Mr. Chung could not escape. He commented:
“We are all sure that the script will not be very good for Mr. Nguyen Duc Chung in the near future. We see that they only deal internally when it comes to the party’s solidarity. Once it is published to the public as the press has posted as its destiny, the person’s political life is considered to be over.”
Former army lieutenant colonel Dinh Duc Long assessed the possibility that Mr. Chung would be arrested before the 13th National Congress. He analyzed:
“Why are they arresting now? At this time, the party congress has reached the city level and Mr. Chung is a member of the party’s Central Committee, the chairman of Hanoi, and the deputy secretary of the Hanoi Party Committee, that is, in the Standing Committee. The party suspension meant he was almost certainly removed from the Hanoi Party Committee. Their process is to do so. Most likely, Mr. Chung will be arrested. They do that, I think they already have the evidence, not simple.”
Journalist Minh Huu Quang said that the story of Mr. Chung’s “political end” was just a matter of time. Most of the officials have backyard businesses but they do not do it directly like Mr. Chung and they leave other businesses or share profits with others.
“Many people said that Mr. Chung will return to the party’s Internal Affairs Department, but in my opinion, there is a possibility that Mr. Chung will be penalized. There will be legal steps such as probing and detention.”