Official denies owning ‘castle’ in Vietnam’s third-poorest province
A high-ranking official of the Party Committee of Son La has denied allegations that he is the owner of a castle-like villa featuring European architecture in one of Vietnam’s poorest provinces.
The villa in question is pictured in Son La Province, located in northern Vietnam.
A photo capturing the majestic property, a huge house featuring rounded vaults typical of European architecture, has circulated on Facebook, captioned as the personal residence of Hoang Quoc Khanh, head of the oversight committee of the Son La Party Committee.
The oversight committee is tasked with supervising all Party members of the province and handling any misconduct.
The ‘castle’ picture has sparked fury online as it is not deemed reasonable for a public official to be able to afford such a luxurious personal residence.
The allegation has added fuel to another public outrage that flared after several department heads of Yen Bai, another mountainous northern province, were discovered to have their own luxury villas.
Son La ranked third in the list of the poorest provinces and cities in Vietnam in 2015, with 92,754 households living in poverty.
Yen Bai took sixth place in the list topped by the north-central province of Thanh Hoa.
Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reached out to Khanh for comment, with the official rebuking all allegations, saying that the claims have been made to defame him.
‘Not my property’
Speaking to Tuoi Tre in his office on Monday, Khanh asserted that “the villa is not [his] property,” before inviting the media to “feel free to do any investigation."
“I confirm that I have nothing to do with corruption or misconduct,” he said.
“That villa is built on land plots owned by my mother and my two sisters.”
The official then showed photocopied certificates, proving that the property was built on three adjacent plots of land registered under his family members’ name.
Khanh went on to say that while his mother and sisters owned the land, the construction of the home was funded by his younger brother, an entrepreneur who used to do business in Russia.
“Upon returning to Vietnam, my brother had the villa constructed to function as both his residence and the office of his construction firm,” he added.
Khanh claimed that he has no idea why the photo of the property, as well as “false information targeting [him],” has been circulated on the Internet.
“This is a deliberate plot to defame me,” he said. “I have called on Son La police to look into the case.”
Tuoi Tre asked locals living near the villa on Monday and was told that the ‘castle’ had been built around five years ago.
“Khanh’s mother and his younger brother used to live there,” the locals said.
A Son La-born resident, Khanh graduated in economics in Hanoi in 1998 before continuing his studies in Russia, where he completed both his master’s and doctorate degrees.
He had planned to continue his business career in Ho Chi Minh City after returning to Vietnam in 2003, but then “the former secretary of the Son La Party Committee invited me to work with him, and I have decided to work for my hometown since.”
Khanh started his public career by working at the office of the Son La Party Committee in 2003 before becoming the chairman of Phu Yen District and secretary of the district's Party Committee.
He was later promoted to work as the director of the provincial investment department and finally, chairman of the oversight committee at the province’s Party Committee.
TUOI TRE NEWS