As Vietnam probes yet another loss-making state firm, former exec disappears

By VnExpress   November 4, 2016 | 06:58 pm PT
As Vietnam probes yet another loss-making state firm, former exec disappears
Vu Dinh Duy in a file photo. Photo by VnExpress
Vu Dinh Duy stopped showing up at his office soon after inspectors detected violations at a fiber plant that he once managed.

A former executive of a nearly bankrupt fiber plant has been questionably absent for days, soon after government inspectors detected violations at the $325 million project.

Vu Dinh Duy served as general director at PVTex, a textile unit of state-owned oil group PetroVietnam, between 2009 and 2014. His company built and run Dinh Vu polyester synthetic fiber plant in the northern city of Hai Phong, which has incurred hugh losses and is on the verge of bankruptcy.

Duy, 41, is now a board member of state-owned chemical giant Vinachem.

The Government Inspectorate said in a report on October 20 that it had detected several violations in the construction and operation of the PVTex plant. It proposed police investigate the case.

Only four days after that, Duy stopped showing up at his current office at Vinachem. He had been seeking a leave for medical treatment overseas, but the request was not approved by the company.

Failing to contact Duy for days, Vinachem's management reported his absence to their supervisors at the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The ministry has dispatched a team to track him down.

Dinh Vu, the fiber plant, was meant to supply about 30-40 percent of Vietnam's annual polyester synthetic fiber demand and help reduce the country's reliance on imported raw materials.

The actual operation, however, went uneasy. The plant began running in May 2014 but suspended production three times, with the latest in September last year.

PVTex planned to resume production in the first quarter of 2016, but the plant has not been reopened since.

According to a PetroVietnam report, PVTex incurred losses of VND1.255 trillion ($55.5 million) in 2015, up from VND1.085 trillion the previous year.

In their report last month, the central government’s inspectors said PVTex, as the investor of the project, and the contractors did not comply with regulations in purchasing equipment. For example, some equipment, which was supposed to be made in Germany, was replaced by equipment made in China. The poor-quality equipment led to the prolonged trial runs of the plant.

Hyundai Engineering Co. Ltd, LG International Corp, and PetroVietnam Construction JSC were the engineering, procurement and construction contractors of the project, according to a statement on PVTex's website.

Following his poor performance at PVTex, Duy was somehow appointed deputy director at Hai Phong Department of Industry and Trade in 2014.

He was later transferred to an industrial and environmental safety agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

One day before leaving office in April this year, the former industry and trade minister Vu Huy Hoang sent Duy over to Vinachem.

Hoang is facing punishment for promoting his son and the now-infamous Trinh Xuan Thanh, who has also fled the country amid an investigation.

Thanh is accused of mismanagement and causing losses of around VND3.2 trillion ($147 million) at PetroVietnam Construction under his watch between 2011 and 2013.

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