Diplomat latest to be caught up in Covid repatriation flights scandal

By Pham Du   March 15, 2023 | 08:36 pm PT
Diplomat latest to be caught up in Covid repatriation flights scandal
Passengers of a Covid-19 repatriation flight wait to be taken to quarantine camps after returning to Vietnam in 2020. Photo by VNA
A former official at the Vietnamese embassy in Malaysia is the latest to be investigated for involvement in the bribery scandal surrounding repatriation of people during the Covid outbreak.

Dang Minh Phuong, 38, is suspected of "abuse of position and power while performing official duties," by investigators under the Ministry of Public Security.

The bureau is also investigating 49 others in the corruption scam including seven for "giving bribes," six of them bosses of travel companies and a woman who acted as an intermediary between them and the officials.

After the Covid outbreak began, Vietnam organized around 2,000 flights to ferry home more citizens, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

Many travel companies allegedly bribed officials to get sanction to organize those flights and sold stranded people very expensive tickets.

Each flight fetched profits of several billion dong (VND1 billion = $42,580), according to the ministry.

The arrestees include high-ranking officials like To Anh Dung, deputy foreign minister until last April, and Nguyen Quang Linh, an assistant to former Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh.

Former head of the Government Office, Mai Tien Dung, received a warning from the Communist Party Secretariat on March 9 for "violating democratic centralism principles" and Party regulations and the law, being negligent with regard to the organization of Covid repatriation flights and allowing people from the government office to give and take bribes.

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