Vietnam detains tycoon Vu

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Vietnamese tycoon Phan Van Anh Vu, also known as "Aluminium Vu" is escorted by policemen during his trial in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam December 10, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

HANOI (Reuters) – A court in Vietnam has handed a 17-year prison sentence to a tycoon at the heart of a corruption scandal that has ensnared several senior police and government officials, the Ministry of Public Security said on Thursday.

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Phan Van Anh Vu, also known as “Aluminium Vu”, the former chairman of Bac Nam 79 Construction Co, was already serving a nine-year sentence for deliberate disclosure of state secrets.

Thursday’s trial found Mr Vu guilty of “abusing power to appropriate property”.

Vietnam”s graft crackdown has seen the Communist-ruled government launch investigations into hundreds of public officials accused of mismanagement.

Several executives at state-owned enterprises, including one former politburo member, have been jailed for mismanagement or embezzlement.

Mr Vu, who fled to Singapore seeking passage to Germany but was arrested in Vietnam earlier this year, was jailed for nine years for deliberate disclosure of state secrets in a separate trial in July.

The court in Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday also sentenced Tran Phuong Binh, former chief executive officer of the local private lender DongA Bank, to life in prison for abusing power to appropriate property and violating state regulations on economic management, the ministry said on its website.

Mr Vu, Mr Binh and 24 others were found guilty of causing losses of more than 3.6 trillion dong ($154.5 million) at DongA Bank, according to the statement.

Reuters could not immediately reach lawyers for Mr Vu and Mr Binh to comment.

Since Mr Vu’s arrest in January, Vietnam has arrested or prosecuted several senior officials accused of involvement in businesses or schemes controlled by Mr Vu, including two former chairmen of Danang, a former deputy chairman of Ho Chi Minh City and two former deputy police ministers.

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