Senior officials arrested for alleged involvement in PetroVietnam unit scandal

By Ba Do   April 2, 2017 | 11:39 am GMT+7

But the main suspect remains in hiding overseas.

Police have arrested two senior Vietnamese officials for their involvement in the mismanagement fiasco at PVC, a unit of state-owned oil giant PetroVietnam that has been making headlines since September last year.

The Public Security Ministry's Inspection Agency on Friday arrested Do Van Hong, chair of the board and general director of Kinh Bac Petroleum Construction and Investment JSC, a unit of PVC in Bac Ninh Province, and Nguyen Manh Tien, former deputy general director of PVC. The two are being probed for "violating economic management regulations causing serious consequences”.

Four other PVC executive officers have already been detained while the central figure in the scandal, Trinh Xuan Thanh, who is currently wanted on an international warrant, is still in hiding overseas. Thanh and his team are accused of mismanagement and causing losses of around VND3.2 trillion ($147 million) at PVC.

The arrests come several months after the Central Inspection Committee, the Communist Party’s top watchdog, said it would punish several senior officials for alleged personnel violations that led to Thanh's appointment as vice chairman of the southern province of Hau Giang last year.

Tran Cong Chanh, the head of Hau Giang's Communist Party unit, along with two retired senior officials and three vice ministers of home affairs, have all been rebuked in the case.

Thanh sought overseas sick leave in August 2016, and has not returned since, according to police. He was expelled from the Communist Party last September, a move that would pave the way for him to face criminal charges.

Thanh first caught media attention in June for driving a $230,000 Lexus with a government license plate in a country where the average annual income is around $2,200. The scandal caused uproar over the use of public money, prompting Communist Party Chief Nguyen Phu Trong to order a probe into his political career and how he had been promoted.

Government inspectors found that Thanh and his team, starting in 2009, had launched a number of ventures with different companies, but few had proven successful. Most of their business projects ended up being delayed or closed down.

After his stint at PVC, Thanh continued to climb the ladder with an apparently successful political track record, holding various government positions before taking his last post as deputy chairman of Hau Giang.