Homebuyers cry foul as developer goes into hiding

August 29, 2019 | 11:00
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A Ho Chi Minh City-based real estate developer has been accused of acting irresponsibly towards customers, with questions of a scam being raised.
homebuyers cry foul as developer goes into hiding
Manhattan Tower (the former Thanh An Tower) in Hanoi’s Thanh Xuan district from developer Landmark Holding JSC

Last week, VIR received complaints from dozens of customers who bought apartments at Manhattan Tower (the former Thanh An Tower) in Hanoi’s Thanh Xuan district from developer Landmark Holding JSC, where construction has stalled since last December after building 21 storeys, leaving nine unfinished.

The deadline of handing over apartments to clients has already passed but the developer has thus far evaded them without offering any direct information or explanation.

CEO Truong Hoang Vu last week sent a document to its homebuyers to inform that the company would not develop the project, and Ba Dinh Construction Consultancy-Investment JSC would take over the contracts with them.

Homebuyers expressed indignation about the developer “dealing over their heads” by transferring the contracts without consulting or issuing any sort of communication to them, who have made the contracts directly with Landmark Holding already paying 50-70 per cent of the apartment value.

“I made the contract with Landmark Holding because I was told this is a reputable real estate developer with lots of good reviews, and collaboration with numerous real estate brands and construction sectors like Vinaconex, TEXO, CenGroup,” said Dang Tran Phuc, who bought one apartment.

Another homebuyer, Nguyen Thi Hien, said her family bought two apartments after Landmark Holding pledged to finish the project and hand it over to homebuyers in July. “The deadline has passed and the project was stopped indefinitely. I have to pay rent for my son and my sister and pay off the bank loan I took up to buy the apartments,” said Hien.

In the contract between its homebuyers and Landmark Holding signed a year before the handover deadline, the developer committed to pay the interest on the bank loans taken up to purchase apartments at Manhattan Tower for a year. “This one-year grace period has ended and we are going to have to pay both interest and principal to the bank while we have no apartment to live in,” Hien added.

According to these homebuyers, they have been trying to contact Landmark Holding and were only met by staff who could not give them any information. They tried to contact the sales agents with whom they signed the purchase contracts, but they have already left the company. This has led many clients to suspect that they have been scammed.

VIR also tried to contact Landmark Holding’s office and CEO Vu, but received no feedback on either account.

Manhattan Tower was granted land and broke ground in 2009, but it was not until 2017 that the project was approved to be constructed. The project was riddled with issues related to tax evasion of up to VND188 billion ($8.2 million). Additionally, the project stopped last December because “the developer has no money to pay out the main contractor”, according to a complaint by Vinaconex, the main contractor.

Landmark Holding is a limited experienced real estate developer with original establishment of Thang Long Oil and Gas General Service Corporation in 2012 with VND30 billion ($1.3 million) of charter capital, specialising in chemical products. In 2017, the corporation was renamed Landmark Holding JSC and raised its charter capital twice, first to VND100 billion ($4.35 million) and then to VND233 billion ($10.13 million).

Since then, the company has entered real estate and became the developer of Manhattan Tower by purchasing stakes of Ba Dinh Construction ­Consultancy-Investment JSC. Landmark Holding also invested in several other projects, including five villas in Imperia Garden Hanoi (also in Thanh Xuan district) valuing around VND88 billion ($3.83 million), and five land plots in District 2’s An Phu ward in Ho Chi Minh City to build a 22-storey complex.

By Huong Oanh

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