A Vietnamese national being held by Singapore’s immigration authority has been confirmed as a business tycoon wanted at home and now faces deportation from the city-state, regardless of an official request from Vietnam, two lawyers have said.
Phan Van Anh Vu, who is in custody in Singapore after being arrested by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) on December 28, is the same person known in Vietnam as Vu “nhom” (aluminum), a Singaporean lawyer confirmed after meeting him on Wednesday.
Lawyer Remy Choo Zheng Xi asserted to a Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper correspondent in Singapore that his client is the same person seen in photos accompanying recent stories about Vu “nhom” published by Vietnamese media.
Remy Choo is retained by Vu’s family to represent him.
Lawyer Remy Choo Zheng Xi is seen in front of his law office in Singapore in this supplied photo.
Vu “nhom,” or Phan Văn Anh Vũ, is wanted after Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security launched legal proceedings against him in absentia on charges of “deliberately disclosing state secrets,” and searched his house in the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang on December 21.
He is a real estate tycoon, whose legal troubles have been widely covered by the Vietnamese press.
The ICA said on December 26 it is holding a man named Phan Van Anh Vu for allegedly committing offenses under the local Immigration Act, without giving any other details.
Now that Vu “nhom” is being held in Singapore for violating the city-state’s immigration law, Ha Hai, an attorney from the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association, said the ICA has all rights to request either repatriation or deportation for him under any circumstance.
Vu “nhom” reportedly entered Singapore from Vietnam by road and was trying to continue traveling to Malaysia on the morning of December 28 when he was arrested by the ICA.
Phan Van Anh Vu and one of his 'problematic' projects in Da Nang, Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Lawyer Hai, citing the Singaporean Immigration Act, said that any person reasonably believed to be a person liable to removal from Singapore under the act may be “arrested without warrant by any immigration officer […] or by a police officer.”
This person may also be “detained in any prison, police station or immigration depot for a period not exceeding 14 days pending a decision as to whether an order for his removal should be made,” Hai added.
For Vu “nhom,” these rules mean that the Singaporean immigration authority has all rights to arrest, detain and remove the Vietnamese without a formal request from Vietnam’s government, according to lawyer Hai.
The Ministry of Public Security will receive Vu “nhom” following his return to Vietnam.
A screenshot of a Straits Times report on the arrest of Phan Van Anh Vu.
The Vietnamese magnate is being held in a detention center of immigration offenders in central Singapore.
Lawyer Remy Choo said he will file a letter to the ICA to call for the release of his client.
The lawyer added if Vu “nhom” did not violate any specific rule while he was in Singapore, and therefore could not be found guilty of any charge, he should be released immediately.