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Vietnam Today

Two former ministers accused of bribery in AVG-MobiFone case

Released at: 17:15, 05/09/2019

Two former ministers accused of bribery in AVG-MobiFone case

Former ministers Nguyen Bac Son (left) and Truong Minh Tuan (Photo source: Portal of the Ministry of Public Security)

Former Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Bac Son received bribes of $3 million, according to investigation outcomes.

by Linh Chi

Two former Ministers of Information and Communications, Nguyen Bac Son and his successor Truong Minh Tuan, have been accused of receiving large bribes when MobiFone purchased 95 per cent of shares in the Audio Visual Global JSC (AVG), according to a report from the Vietnam News Agency.

The State-run news agency quoted the Supreme People’s Procuracy as announcing on September 3 that it had received a document from the Investigation Police Department under the Ministry of Public Security presenting the outcomes of investigations into the case and requesting the prosecution of the two former ministers along with 12 other suspects on several charges.

According to the investigation outcomes, Son received $3 million from the then AVG Chairman Pham Nhat Vu after approving the illegal investment in the deal, which caused a loss of over VND6.47 trillion ($289.82 million) to the State.

The Investigation Police Department concluded that Son was the ringleader in the case, making use of his position and power to instruct his subordinates to handle the deal between MobiFone and AVG and issue a decision to approve the investment, in violation of regulations.

The police proposed prosecuting Son (who has retired), Tuan (who was removed from his position as minister) and eleven other suspects, including a director of the ministry’s Department of Enterprise Management, eight executives and employees of MobiFone, and two employees of the AMAX investment consultancy and valuation company, on charges of “violating regulations on the management and use of public capital causing serious consequences” under Article 220, Clause 4, of the 2015 Criminal Code.

The two former ministers and two senior MobiFone officials - Cao Duy Hai and Le Nam Tra - have also been accused of receiving money from Vu after assisting with the quick completion of the deal at Vu’s request.

The 14th suspect, former AVG Chairman Pham Nhat Vu, is accused of paying bribes.

The AVG deal happened in December 2015. As the government began to investigate the deal last year, MobiFone and AVG decided to terminate the transfer of 344.66 million shares and refund the amounts received under the agreement.

The Government Inspectorate, however, said that anyone responsible for the deal “must bear their due responsibility” despite it being cancelled.

In another case, the Investigation Police Department announced on September 4 that it has proposed the People’s Procuracy instigate a prosecution against 21 people involved in corruption in central Da Nang city, relating to Phan Van Anh Vu (alias “Vu Nhom”).

Prominent among the accused are two former Chairmen of Da Nang, Tran Van Minh, and Van Huu Chien, who are facing charges of “violating regulations on State asset management and use, causing losses and wastefulness” in accordance with Article 219 of the 2015 Penal Code, and “violating State regulations on land management” in line with Article 229 of the Penal Code.

Da Nang's former Chairmen Tran Van Minh (left) and Van Huu Chien (Source: tuoitre.vn)

Investigations reveal they had a role in 21 public properties purchased by Vu, former Chairman of the Bac Nam 79 Construction JSC, and his accomplices at low prices, along with seven real estate projects valued in the tens of trillions of VND (VND 1 trillion is $43 million).

Between 2002 and 2017, Vu used his own name and those of his relatives to establish, contribute capital to, and directly manage five real estate companies, aiming to purchase many property projects as well as public housing and land lots in Da Nang without auction, at prices less than those set by the city’s People’s Committee, personally pocketing a huge amount of money.

As Chairmen of the People’s Committee, Minh and Chien were assigned to manage and use State assets and manage land in the city. However, they violated regulations on State asset management and use and land management.

They signed into issuance many documents and instructed their subordinates in land hand-over, reclamation and lease, the transfer of land-use rights, and the conversion of land-use purposes. They also illegally transferred public housing and land in Da Nang to Vu.

Earlier, the Investigation Police Agency launched legal proceeding against Minh and Chien on charges of “violating regulations on State asset management and use, causing losses and wastefulness” and “violating State regulations on land management.”

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