Former deputy minister stands trial for Covid repatriation flights bribery

By Pham Du, Ngoc Thanh, Thanh Lam   July 10, 2023 | 08:51 pm PT
Former deputy minister stands trial for Covid repatriation flights bribery
Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs is escorted by the police to the Hanoi People's Court, July 11, 2023. Photo by VnExpress
Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs To Anh Dung and 53 others stood trial at the Hanoi People's Court Tuesday for a Covid-19 repatriation flight bribery scandal.

The others include Nguyen Quang Linh, a former assistant to Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh, and Nguyen Thi Huong Lan, former head of the foreign ministry’s consular department.

The examining is expected to begin Tuesday afternoon.

In April 2020, the government organized flights to bring back Vietnamese citizens stranded abroad during the pandemic.

Businesses that wanted to operate the flights had to receive approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after evaluation by several other ministries.

In 2020 and 2021, over 1,000 flights brought back over 200,000 people home from 62 countries and territories.

The foreign ministry recommended that the government should approve 772 flights.

To "smoothen the process," 20 businesses and over 100 other legal entities hiked ticket prices.

There were public security officials who helped the businesses evade the law.

They include Nguyen Anh Tuan, a former deputy director of the Hanoi police, who allegedly took $2.65 million from Le Hong Son and Nguyen Thi Thanh Hang, general director and deputy general director of Bau Troi Xanh company.

Prosecutors said 21 of the 54 accused, who used to work at government agencies, had misused their authority to receive bribes amounting to VND165 billion ($6.97 million) on 515 occasions.

Four people at the Vietnamese embassy in Malaysia had taken VND10 billion.

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