The investigation agency of the Ministry of Public Security has asked the Peoples’ Supreme Procuracy to prosecute a former journalist for extorting money from two companies in 2010.
(File) Phan Ha Binh was arrested on October 13, 2010 at a restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City for blackmailing
Phan Ha Binh, former deputy managing editor of the Hanoi-based Tien Phong newspaper, was caught red-handed on October 13, 2010, while receiving VND220 million (US$10,700) from Nguyen Cam Phuong, the communications director of Saigon Investment Group at Nhat Ha Restaurant on Vo Van Tan Street in District 3 of HCMC.
Investigators said that last September, Phan Ha Binh, whose pen name is Ha Phan, collected inside information on some projects developed by the group’s member companies, which were facing obstacles.
Binh, 42, asked Phuong to give him some money or else he would write articles revealing the cause of the problems faced by the group.
When Phuong refused his blackmail demand, Binh published three tell-all articles right away.
Binh later continued to contact Phuong and blackmail her, saying that if the group did not give him a certain amount of money he would continue to publishing more damaging articles about the group and its affiliate, Saigon-Tan Ky Cement Investment Joint-stock Company, of which Phuong was chief representative in Ho Chi Minh City.
He asked for VND200 million (US$9,700) in exchange for stopping the publishing of unfavorable stories of the group but instead offered to write articles that would show the group in a good light, for another US$3.000.
After some negotiation, Phuong agreed to give him VND220 million but later reported the matter to the police. Acting on the information provided, the police arrested Binh while Phuong was paying him the money.
As soon as Binh’s arrest was made public, Bui Dinh Hung, Chairman of Luong Tai Investment and Construction JS Company, reported the investigation of Binh when he had tried to blackmail his company in 2009.
According to the investigation agency, Binh had blackmailed the company to give him US$1,000, otherwise he would write articles revealing some discrepancies in an announcement released by the HCMC-based company.
In order to ‘buy’ his silence, Hung gave Binh the money.
Binh confessed to the police that he had taken advantage of his job at the newspaper to collect information on these companies and later blackmail them.