Detained Vietnamese tycoon faced issues holding passports with two identities: Lawyer

Mr Phan Van Anh Vu (pictured, centre) is facing issues over holding two different passports, his lawyer said on Jan 3, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - The Vietnamese property magnate arrested here for immigration offences last Thursday faced issues for holding two different passports, said his lawyer Choo Zheng Xi on Wednesday (Jan 3).

Mr Phan Van Anh Vu, 42, formerly a senior intelligence officer in Vietnam, is wanted there for allegedly disclosing state secrets deliberately.

His whereabouts had been the subject of speculation after the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security said it issued an arrest warrant for him last month.

"His passports were of two different identities, but they were both issued by the Vietnamese government," Mr Choo told The Straits Times on Wednesday, after meeting Mr Vu.

He added that the Vietnamese businessman had travelled through Singapore with these documents previously, without facing problems.

When approached, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) declined to comment further on the case.

The ICA had confirmed on Tuesday that Mr Vu was arrested on Dec 28 "for committing offences under the Immigration Act".

"I am writing to the ICA to request clarity on why is he being detained," Mr Choo said, adding that he is not clear why Mr Vu is being held.

Mr Choo had earlier filed an application with the Supreme Court requesting for Mr Vu to be given access to counsel, and for him to not to be sent back to Vietnam before the outcome of the application.

A pre-trial conference has been held for the case, he said, adding: "From my understanding of the proceedings, there is still a possibility that (Mr Vu) could be sent back."

According to Vietnamese media reports, Mr Vu previously served as a police senior lieutenant-colonel.

He was said to have close ties with former secretary of Da Nang Party Committee 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, according to the same report.

The Saigon Times Daily reported in a Dec 25 article that Mr Vu, who is a chairman of three companies in Vietnam, had been accused of deliberately giving away state secrets.

Singapore has no extradition treaty with Vietnam but under the Immigration Act, the ICA may repatriate people under certain circumstances.

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