Vietnam jails ex-deputy defence minister over land scandal

FILE PHOTO: Vietnam's Vice Minister of Defence and Navy Commander in Chief Vice Admiral Nguyen speaks with media along the sides of the 5th ASEAN Navy Chiefs meeting in Hanoi

HANOI(Reuters) - A military court in Vietnam on Thursday sentenced a former deputy defence minister accused of allowing three plots of land in Ho Chi Minh City to be illegally transferred to private investors from the navy to four years in prison.

State media said Navy admiral Nguyen Van Hien, 65, who was found guilty of "lack of responsibility", had transferred plots totalling 7,300 sq metres for 45-49 years for the construction of office buildings.

Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong has presided over a crackdown on corruption that has seen several high-ranking ministers and politicians jailed, including a member of the one-party state's ruling Politburo.

"Hien's activity meant the Navy lost the use of the plots for 49 years, causing losses of nearly 940 billion dong ($40 million) to the state," the Ministry of Public Security said.

The military court also sentenced four other military officers to between four and nine years in prison for their involvement in the case.

Hien, who was deputy defence minister from 2009 to 2016, was stripped of his party credentials in April, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

($1 = 23,275 dong)


(Reporting by Khanh Vu; Additional reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Editing by Kevin Liffey)