Communist Party of Vietnam expels two former information ministers

By Hoang Thuy   October 11, 2019 | 06:37 am PT
Communist Party of Vietnam expels two former information ministers
Nguyen Bac Son (L) and Truong Minh Tuan, former ministers of Information and Communications at a police station in February. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Public Security.
Two former Ministers of Information and Communications have been expelled from the Communist Party for violations in an infamous TV firm acquistion case.

The decisions to revoke Party memberships of Nguyen Bac Son and Truong Minh Tuan were taken at a meeting of the Party's Central Committee Friday, 11 days after the Central Inspection Committee, the Party's top watchdog, recommended the move.

The two former information ministers had already been dismissed from their Party positions last year. Their explusion from the Party came seven months after both were arrested and placed under criminal investigation for violations related to management and use of public capital. They were accused of receiving bribes in the illegal acquisition of private pay TV firm Audio Visual Global JSC (AVG) by state-owned telecom giant Mobiphone in 2016.

Government inspectors later concluded that the deal had violated public investment laws and caused an estimated loss of about VND7 trillion ($300 million) to the state budget.

Son, then serving as the information minister, directly approved MobiFone's acquisition of AVG against regulations and asked subordinates to sign documents in contravention of regulations, investigators said.

When the purchase was completed, he received $3 million from Pham Nhat Vu, chairman of AVG, through 10 or so transfers to his daughter.

Son offered gave more than VND500 million ($21,459) to the police to "offset the consequences."

Tuan, who served as the information minister from April 2016 to July 2018 and as Son's deputy earlier, signed a decision to approve the acquisition without the Prime Minister’s approval.

He also received multiple calls and text messages from Vu to "create conditions to quickly finish the stake buying process," the investigation found. He received $200,000 from Vu as the direct signatory of the decision taken by the information ministry to approve of the acquisition.

Tuan have the police VND2.12 billion ($90,987) to "offset the consequences."

Investigations also implicated 11 other people for violating regulations in management and use of public capital in the case, including MobiFone's former CEO Cao Duy Hai and former board chairman Le Nam Tra, who had received bribes of $500,000 and $2.5 million respectively.

Vietnam's Communist Party has four modes of punishment for misconduct by official members: reprimand, warning, demotion and expulsion.

The TV firm acquisition is a major case in the corruption crackdown spearheaded by Party General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong.

The campaign has seen scores of officials and top businesspeople arrested and sent to jail in recent years. Trong has said that there will be no let up in the anti-corruption drive.

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