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Ex-Hanoi chairman detained in Covid test kit scandal

By Staff reporters   June 7, 2022 | 04:17 am PT
Ex-Hanoi chairman detained in Covid test kit scandal
Chu Ngoc Anh, former chairman of the Hanoi People's Committee. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh
Former Hanoi chairman Chu Ngoc Anh was arrested Tuesday for mismanagement involving a Covid-19 test kit fraud, hours after he was dismissed from his position.

Anh was expelled from the Communist Party on Monday.

The Party's agencies concluded that Anh had violated the Party and the State's regulations, "causing severe consequences, losses to the money and assets of the State, undermining the Covid-19 fight, causing social unrest and affecting the reputation of the Party, the health ministry and science ministry."

Anh, 57, is a Hanoi native. From April 2016 to September 2020, he served as Minister of Science and Technology. In September 2020, he was elected as Hanoi chairman, replacing Nguyen Duc Chung who was facing a criminal investigation.

He was tasked with leading Hanoi as the capital city struggled with the Covid-19 pandemic. During his 1.5-year tenure as Hanoi chairman, Anh completed the final pieces of capital planning by approving the Red River and Duong River subdivision plans, as well as Hanoi's underground space. The city recorded nearly 3 percent economic growth in 2021.

Also on Tuesday, Pham Cong Tac, former Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, was arrested pending investigation of "violating regulations on the management and use of State assets, causing losses and waste."

Tac, 60, is a resident of Nam Dinh Province. He has been deputy minister since August 2014. Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh made the decision to sack him on Monday.

The Party's Central Inspection Committee last month had proposed that the Politburo, the Party's decision-making body, considers disciplinary action against the Party Committee of the Ministry of Science and Technology during the 2016-2021 period, the Party Committee of the Ministry of Health during the 2016-2021 period, Hanoi chairman Anh who served as the science minister during the period, and health minister Long.

Long was also dismissed from his position as Minister of Health Tuesday after being expelled from the Party.

The Central Inspection Committee had said in March that the Party Committee and officials of the health and science ministries in the 2016-2021 term had been negligent in their management, allowing violations at the ministries and their units regarding the approval, management and sale of Covid-19 test kits.

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 percent and sent around VND800 billion ($35.2 million) as "bonuses" to company partners. Viet said he had bribed certain individuals in this regard.

Several officials including high-ranking military generals and directors of provincial branches of the Center for Diseases Control have been arrested or placed under criminal investigation for their involvement in the case.

 
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