Detained Viet tycoon deported from S'pore

He is later arrested in Vietnam by its Security Investigation Agency

The Vietnamese property magnate who was arrested for immigration offences last Thursday has been deported from Singapore, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) yesterday.

Lawyer Choo Zheng Xi, who represents Mr Phan Van Anh Vu, 42, told The Straits Times that Mr Vu left the country at close to 2pm yesterday, on a flight back to Vietnam.

Mr Vu was arrested by Vietnam's Security Investigation Agency after his deportation, said the Ministry of Public Security on its website.

In its statement yesterday, the MHA said the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) has completed its investigations on Mr Vu's case, and that he was issued a stern warning in lieu of prosecution. ICA also cancelled Mr Vu's visit pass and removed him from Singapore with its powers under the Immigration Act, said MHA.

Mr Vu entered Singapore using a Vietnamese passport that did not bear his name, said an ICA letter that was sent to Mr Vu's lawyer, and seen by The Straits Times.

The Vietnamese government informed Singapore that Mr Vu's passport was fake, and bears a fake personal identity, stated the letter dated yesterday. It also said Mr Vu had been issued with an Order of Detention and Order for Removal, dated Dec 30.

Mr Vu, a former senior intelligence officer in Vietnam, is wanted there for allegedly disclosing state secrets deliberately. His whereabouts had been the subject of speculation after the Ministry of Public Security said it issued an arrest warrant for him last month.

MHA confirmed in its statement that Mr Vu entered Singapore using a passport with a false identity, saying he had another Vietnamese passport bearing his real identity.

"He has used both passports in the past to enter Singapore," said MHA. "Phan had in his possession a third passport as well. In the course of his latest entry into Singapore, as well as his previous entries... Phan has made false declarations to ICA." MHA also said Mr Vu is wanted under an Interpol Red Notice issued by the Vietnamese authorities.

When contacted, Mr Choo said: "I am disappointed that despite my best effort, my client was removed from the jurisdiction without my knowledge or an opportunity to contest the allegations."

He added that he sent ICA a letter at 1.10pm yesterday, asking that Mr Vu not be deported until his lawyers reviewed the documents which were supposed to form the basis of his removal order.

Mr Choo met Mr Vu on Wednesday. He earlier filed an application requesting that Mr Vu be given access to counsel, and that his client not be sent back to Vietnam before the outcome of the application.

Mr Vu was said to have close ties with former Da Nang Party Committee secretary Nguyen Xuan Anh, who was also a member of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee, according to a Xinhua news report on Dec 27. Anh was dismissed from the two positions in October, said the report.

Mr Vu's detention comes amid a corruption crackdown in Vietnam that saw dozens of officials and business figures arrested.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2018, with the headline 'Detained Viet tycoon deported from S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe