Hoang Thi Minh Hong Faces Tax Evasion Trial Amid International Concerns

Hoang Thi Minh Hong Faces Tax Evasion Trial Amid International Concerns
Graphic: Luat Khoa Magazine.

Hoang Thi Minh Hong, the former executive director of CHANGE organization, is set to stand trial for alleged tax evasion at the People's Court of Ho Chi Minh City on September 28, 2023. This information has been confirmed by credible sources, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and another international organization, as reported by Luat Khoa Magazine.

Profile of Hoang Thi Minh Hong:

Hong, known for her prominent role as an environmental activist, was CHANGE's founder and executive director from 2013 to 2022. [1] She gained recognition as the first Vietnamese individual to set foot in Antarctica and also participated in the Obama Foundation's leadership training program. [2] CHANGE, officially the Center for Action and Linkage for Environment and Development, is a science and technology organization under the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA). Post her resignation from CHANGE, Hong established an environmental consulting company called CHOICE. In November 2022, CHANGE announced its closure. [3]

On May 31, 2023, Ho Chi Minh City Police temporarily detained Hong, her husband, and several employees of CHOICE on allegations of tax evasion. While her husband and other employees were released the same day, Hong continued to be detained. [4] Subsequently, on June 3, Hong's husband paid the government a substantial amount for rectification. The Police Investigation Agency under Ho Chi Minh City Police initiated criminal proceedings, temporarily detaining Hong on tax evasion charges on June 5, 2023. All of these details came from the investigation conclusion of Hong's case dated August 24, 2023.

Government Response and Public Outcry:

Following Hong's arrest, there was a notable lack of official government statements, with minimal responses from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which did not confirm or deny her detention. [5] On June 21, Ho Chi Minh City Police publicly announced the arrest, and only by then the state-owned media started to report on Hong's case. [6] Many international organizations, including the United Nations and various human rights organizations, have voiced concerns and called for Hong's release. Hong's case is part of a larger trend where Vietnamese authorities have targeted individuals associated with domestically registered non-profit organizations, alleging tax evasion.

Allegations against Hong and the International Response:

Hong is accused of orchestrating tax evasion worth over 6.8 billion VND relating to corporate income tax and value-added tax (VAT). International entities and organizations have criticized her arrest, contending that it is politically motivated and lacks fair trial procedures.[7] [8] [9] [10]

Hong is the sixth person arrested in connection with domestically registered non-profit organizations that Vietnamese authorities have targeted from 2021 to the present, including Mai Phan Loi and Bach Hung Duong (MEC), Dang Dinh Bach (LPSD), Nguy Thi Khanh (GreenID), and Nguyen Son Lo (SENA). Except for Lo's case, which is a crime of abusing democratic freedoms under Article 331 of Vietnam's Penal Code, the rest are tax evasion crimes. Recently, on September 15, 2023, the government arrested a seventh person, Ngo Thi To Nhien, director of VIETSE - a social enterprise specializing in energy. [11]

A research report by Project 88 - a Vietnamese human rights organization registered in the United States - concluded that these above "tax evasion" cases were all politically motivated, and the defendants did not receive fair trials. [12]


1. Phê duyệt dự án viện trợ không hoàn lại không thuộc hỗ trợ phát triển chính thức của Trung tâm CHANGE. (2021, November 3). vusta.vn. https://vusta.vn/phe-duyet-du-an-vien-tro-khong-hoan-lai-khong-thuoc-ho-tro-phat-trien-chinh-thuc-cua-trung-tam-change-p87309.html

2. Obama Foundation. (n.d.). A day in the life: Hong Hoang. https://www.obama.org/discover/stories/photo-essay-hoang/

3. See: https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=28253

4. Ibid. [3]

5. Kim Ngọc. (2023, June 1). Bộ Ngoại giao nói gì vụ bà Hoàng Thị Minh Hồng bị tạm giữ? - Báo Công an Nhân dân điện tử. Báo Công an Nhân Dân Điện Tử. https://cand.com.vn/nhan-quyen/bo-ngoai-giao-noi-gi-vu-ba-hoang-thi-minh-hong-bi-tam-giu--i695502/

6. RFA. (2023, June 22). Công an TPHCM nói bà Hoàng Thị Minh Hồng bị bắt vì trốn thuế hơn năm tỷ đồng. Radio Free Asia. https://www.rfa.org/vietnamese/news/vietnamnews/ho-chi-minh-city-says-hoang-thi-minh-hong-commits-over-vnd5billion-tax-evasion-06222023051704.html

7. United Nations Environment Programme. (n.d.). Detention of environmental human rights defender Hoang Thi Minh Hong. UNEP. https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/statements/detention-environmental-human-rights-defender-hoang-thi-minh-hong

8. See: https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/sites/default/files/open_letter_to_obama_web-large-1.pdf

9. On the Detention of Leaders and Staff of Vietnamese Environmental Civil Society Organization CHANGE - United States Department of State. (2023, June 2). United States Department of State. https://www.state.gov/on-the-detention-of-leaders-and-staff-of-vietnamese-environmental-civil-society-organization-change/

10. University statement on the arrest of Hoang Thi Minh Hong. (2023, September 21). Columbia News. https://news.columbia.edu/news/university-statement-arrest-hoang-thi-minh-hong

11. BBC News Tiếng Việt. (2023, September 21). VN bắt giám đốc năng lượng Ngô Thị Tố Nhiên của VIETSE sau chuyến thăm của TT Biden. BBC News Tiếng Việt. https://www.bbc.com/vietnamese/vietnam-66876263

12. Swanton, Ben. (2023). Việt Nam vũ khí hoá Luật Hình sự nhằm truy tố Bộ Tứ - The 88 Project. The 88 Project. https://the88project.org/viet-nam-vu-khi-hoa-luat-hinh-su-nham-truy-to-bo-tu/

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