Fugitive Vietnamese Businessman Detained in Singapore, Lawyers Say

By Reuters 2 January 2018

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.

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 had applied for asylum in a European country.

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.”

Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry also 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 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.