Fugitive Vietnamese businessman detained in Singapore, lawyers say

Fugitive Vietnamese businessman detained in Singapore, lawyers say

Phan Van Anh Vu
Phan is wanted for allegedly revealing state secrets. (Photo: vnexpress.net)

SINGAPORE: A real estate developer wanted by Vietnamese authorities amid a crackdown on corruption has been detained in Singapore, lawyers representing him  said on Tuesday (Jan 2).

Phan Van Anh Vu, 42, was detained in Singapore on Thursday at the Tuas border checkpoint as he tried to leave for Malaysia, said Remy Choo, who said he had been engaged by Vu's family to represent him but had not yet been able to contact him.

Vietnam's Ministry of Public Security said last month it was seeking the arrest of Vu, a major property developer in the central city of Danang, where the local leadership was shaken up after corruption accusations last year.

Vietnamese media quoted police as saying Vu was wanted for revealing state secrets. They did not say what these related to or whether that was linked to his role as a property developer.

Choo said Vu was seeking to get to Germany. A lawyer representing Vu in Frankfurt, Victor Pfaff, confirmed he had written to the Germany embassy in Singapore about the case on Dec 31. The German foreign office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Another lawyer retained by the family, Foo Chow Ming, said: "I am now trying to obtain access to see Mr Vu, who is held in remand."

In an email to Channel NewsAsia, Singapore's Immigration and Checkpoints Authority said Mr Vu was arrested "for committing offences under the Immigration Act". 

Vietnam's foreign ministry did not respond immediately to a request for comment on Vu's detention in Singapore and whether Hanoi had sought his extradition.

Singapore has close diplomatic and trade ties to Vietnam. This year, Singapore is also chairing the regional Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) grouping, which has sought to strengthen regional cooperation on all fronts.

Dozens of Vietnamese officials and business figures have been arrested in a crackdown on corruption that has gathered pace since the security establishment gained greater sway in the ruling Communist Party in 2016.

The crackdown grabbed world headlines last year when Germany accused Vietnam of kidnapping a former oil executive to return him home to face trial.

Source: Reuters/mz/hs