Deputy PM's assistant arrested in Covid test kit scandal

By Pham Du   November 30, 2022 | 05:06 pm PT
Deputy PM's assistant arrested in Covid test kit scandal
Boxes of Covid-19 test kit by Viet A Technology Corporation in a photo taken in 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Tung
Nguyen Van Trinh, assistant to a deputy prime minister, was detained Wednesday for alleged power abuse as Vietnam continued investigation into a massive Covid test kit scam.

Trinh has been put under criminal investigation for "abuse of power or position in performance of official duties" as police expanded their investigation into the Covid test kit scandal involving Viet A Technology Corporation, the Ministry of Public Security said.

Authorities said Trinh had illegally abused his position to make officials in the Ministry of Health grant Vietnam registration number of its Covid-19 test kit without following application protocols. This helped Viet A easily sell test kits across the country, causing serious damage to the state budget.

Trinh has worked as an assistant to a deputy prime minister since December 2018, after many years of working as a secretary.

Since violations at Viet A Company were discovered in January this year, police officers have arrested nearly 100 people, including high-ranking military generals and directors of provincial branches of the Center for Diseases Control.

Former Hanoi chairman Chu Ngoc Anh, former Minister of Science and Technology, and former Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long were arrested in June due to their involvement in the scandal.

Phan Quoc Viet, general director of Viet A, admitted in January that he had inflated the price of a Covid-19 test kit by 45% and sent around VND800 billion ($35.2 million) as "bonuses" to company partners. Viet said he had bribed certain individuals in this regard.

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