Former health minister charged for receiving $2.25M bribes in Covid test kit scandal

By Pham Du   September 30, 2023 | 04:00 am PT
Former health minister charged for receiving $2.25M bribes in Covid test kit scandal
Former Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long at an online meeting on fighting Covid-19, September 2021. Photo by Nhat Bac
Former health minister Nguyen Thanh Long was charged on Friday with receiving $2.25 million as bribes to let a local company sell its Covid-19 test kit at hiked prices

Long, along with his former secretary Nguyen Huynh, former director of the Hai Duong Center for Disease Control Pham Duy Tuyen, former head of the Department of Health Equipment and Works Nguyen Minh Tuan, former head of the Department of Financial Planning Nguyen Nam Lien, former head of the Department of Science and Technology Trinh Thanh Hung, were charged with receiving bribes by the Supreme People's Procuracy.

Pham Xuan Thang, former Hai Duong Party Secretary, was charged with power abuse.

Phan Quoc Viet, general director of the Viet A Company, as well as his subordinate Vu Dinh Hiep, were charged with giving bribes and bidding violations that lead to serious consequences.

Phan Ton Noel Thao and Ho Thi Thanh Thao, finance advisor and treasurer of Viet A, were charged with giving bribes.

Chu Ngoc Anh, former Minister of Science and Technology, and Pham Cong Tac, deputy minister, were charged with violations regarding the management and use of state-owned property that lead to losses.

25 others were charged with bidding violations and power abuse.

At the heights of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, Viet at Viet A Company instructed his subordinates to develop, produce and seek approval for distribution for Covid-19 test kits.

Viet was accused of giving bribes totaling to VND106 billion ($4.36 million) to several officials, with Long receiving the highest amount.

Long and his secretary Huynh were accused of intervening to help Viet A's test kits be registered by the Ministry of Health for distribution and price negotiations. They also suggested and requested Viet to give them money.

In 2020 and 2021, Viet A had produced 8.7 million Covid-19 test kits and sold 8.3 million of them. The company was paid VND2.25 trillion by the state, and was accused to have illegally gained VND1.235 trillion.

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