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Two former Ministers of Information and Communications jailed in AVG case

Released at: 09:25, 30/12/2019

Two former Ministers of Information and Communications jailed in AVG case

Son (front, left) and Tuan (right) among defendants (standing) at the court on December 28 (Photo: VNA)

Jail sentences handed down to 14 defendants on December 28 in Hanoi.

by Long Van

The Hanoi People’s Court handed down jail sentences on December 28 to 14 defendants, including two former Ministers of Information and Communications, in relation to the case of MobiFone purchasing 95 per cent of shares in the Audio Visual Global JSC (AVG), according to a report from the Vietnam News Agency (VNA).

They were charged with “violating regulations on the management and use of public investment capital, causing serious consequences” and “receiving bribes”.

The court handed down a life sentence to former Minister Nguyen Bac Son and 16 years to his successor, Truong Minh Tuan.

Former Chairman of the MobiFone Member Council Le Nam Tra and former MobiFone General Director Cao Duy Hai were given sentences of 23 and 14 years in prison.

For the nine defendants charged with “violating regulations on the management and use of public investment capital, causing serious consequences”, the court pronounced that former head of the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC)’s Department of Enterprise Management Pham Dinh Trong will be behind bars for five years, Director of the AMAX investment consultancy and valuation company Vo Van Manh for three years and six months, Appraiser Hoang Duy Quang for three years, Member of the MobiFone Member Council Phan Thi Hoa Mai for four years, MobiFone Deputy General Directors Pham Thi Phuong Anh, Ho Tuan, Nguyen Bao Long, and Nguyen Manh Hung for two years and six months, and MobiFone Deputy General Director Nguyen Dang Nguyen for two years.

Former Chairman of AVG’s Board of Directors Pham Nhat Vu was given a three-year sentence for paying bribes.

According to the court, the case is extremely serious and caused losses of over VND6.47 trillion ($278.21 million) to the State.

The families of Son, Tuan, Tra, Hai, Quang and the head of AMAX paid some VND138 billion ($5.9 million) to the State budget to make up for the losses. The bank accounts of Son, Tuan, and Tra remain frozen.

The court also decided to cancel an asset seizure order for the use of land and housing owned by Son, Tuan, and their spouses at two different addresses.

According to the indictment, in 2015, the MoIC-run MobiFone bought 95 per cent of AVG for VND8.9 trillion ($382.7 million); many times higher than the actual value of the struggling company, causing losses of over VND6.47 trillion ($278.21 million) to the State.

During the purchasing process, Son, Tuan, Tra, and Hai made use of their positions to speed up the deal without the approval of the Prime Minister, despite their knowledge of AVG’s poor financial and business situation.

Son also received $3 million from AVG Chairman Vu, while Tra, Hai, and Tuan received $2.5 million, $500,000, and $200,000, respectively, to push the transaction ahead.

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