Vietnamese Tycoon Detained in Singapore Forced Back to Vietnam

Phan Van Anh Vu is flown to Hanoi and taken into custody on charges of revealing state secrets.

Vietnamese businessman Phan Van Anh Vu is shown in an April 29, 2016 photo.

A wealthy Vietnamese property developer wanted in Vietnam on charges of espionage was flown back to Hanoi on Thursday after being briefly detained in Singapore, RFA has learned.

Phan Van Anh Vu, 42, had applied to Germany for asylum before his forced return to Vietnam, where he faces a possible death sentence for “revealing state secrets” under Article 263 of Vietnam’s penal code.

Speaking to RFA’s Vietnamese Service on Thursday, Remy Choo—one of Vu’s lawyers in Singapore—confirmed that his client had been sent back, while media sources reported that Vu arrived at Hanoi’s Noi Bai Airport at around 3:30 p.m.

“I am disappointed that, despite our best efforts for our client, he was deported without our knowledge [and was not given] an opportunity to contest the allegations made against him,” Choo said in a Jan. 4 Yahoo News Singapore report.

Fleeing a Dec. 20 order for his prosecution, Vu was arrested in Singapore at the end of December while attempting to cross the border into Malaysia on a passport that had been canceled by Vietnamese authorities, media reports said.

He was then held by Singapore authorities for committing offenses under the Immigration Act.

The Reuters news agency quoted a lawyer engaged by Vu’s family as saying he had hoped to travel to Germany, where former Vietnamese oil executive Trinh Xuan Thanh had been kidnapped by Vietnamese security agents in a park in Berlin last July.

Vu, a former senior intelligence officer, had enjoyed close ties to former Communist Party Central Committee member Nguyen Xuan Anh, who was removed from his post in October 2017 amid an ongoing crackdown on corruption in Vietnam’s banking and energy sectors.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Emily Peyman. Written in English by Richard Finney.