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Vietnam Today

HCMC Party Chief withdraws from Politburo

Released at: 10:05, 08/05/2017

HCMC Party Chief withdraws from Politburo

Mr. Dinh La Thang. Photo: zing.vn

Mr. Dinh La Thang may now be removed from his position as Secretary of HCMC Party Committee.

by Duy Anh

More than 90 per cent of the Communist Party of Vietnam’s Central Committee, comprising 180 full members, voted on May 7 to issue a warning to Mr. Dinh La Thang, Politburo member and Secretary of Ho Chi Minh City’s Party Committee due to his “serious” violations and mismanagement at State-owned energy giant PetroVietnam during his time as Chairman, according to a report from the Vietnam News Agency.

The Party Central Committee also accepted Mr. Thang’s proposal to withdraw from the Politburo, the highest decision-making body of the Party.

The powerful 19-member Politburo is now down to 18 members.

Mr. Thang now faces the possibility of also being removed from his position as Party leader in Ho Chi Minh City.

The punishment imposed on Mr. Thang is the latest high-profile case that shows that even the most politically powerful are no longer immune from censure.

The Central Committee said in a statement that, despite his contributions to PetroVietnam, Mr. Thang committed “serious” violations and exhibited shortcomings during his time as the group’s Chairman from 2009 to 2011.

Such wrongdoings caused “indignation among Communist Party members, State officers, and the public,” warranting punishment in line with Party regulations.

In late April, the Party Central Committee’s Inspection Commission recommended disciplinary action against Mr. Thang, holding him accountable for a series of violations and mismanagement at PetroVietnam.

After serving as Chairman from 2009 until 2011, his political career then took off as he joined Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s cabinet as Minister of Transport.

The recent inspection only focused on business violations at PetroVietnam between 2009 and 2015. Party inspectors found that he was responsible for illegal business decisions, including violations involving an investment in local lender Ocean Bank and “big bidding packages”, according to a post on the government website.

Mr. Thang was also responsible for “advising the Prime Minister to designate many bidding packages that failed to meet legal regulations”, according to the Central Inspection Commission.

It said he was responsible for violations of the Law on Bidding related to the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract for the Dung Quat Biofuel Plant as well as low investment efficiency in a number of projects, including the Dinh Vu Polyester manufacturing plant and bio-energy projects.

Mr. Thang was voted into the Politburo in early 2016. He became Ho Chi Minh City’s Party Chief the same year.

Three investigations have previously been conducted, with the common thread being PetroVietnam’s losses and mismanagement during Mr. Thang’s days at the helm.

Mr. Trinh Xuan Thanh, who chaired the PetroVietnam Construction Company, a key contractor for and subsidiary of PetroVietnam, was also investigated for accruing VND3.3 trillion ($147 million) in losses. He is currently on the run overseas and Vietnam has issued an Interpol Red Notice for his arrest.

A colleague of Mr. Thanh’s, Mr. Vu Duc Thuan, was arrested in September as part of the same investigation into mismanagement at PetroVietnam Construction.

Mr. Vu Huy Hoang, former Minister of Industry and Trade, was investigated for hiring Mr. Thanh and was himself investigated for corruption. He was dismissed from all Party posts in November last year.

The one-week fifth plenary meeting of the Communist Party of Vietnam's Central Committee in the 12th tenure, consisting of the country’s most senior Communist Party members, began on May 5 to discuss hot button issues, according to Party Chief Nguyen Phu Trong. At the top of the agenda are the reform of the public sector, the development of the private sector, and punitive measures against Party members.

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