Former health minister receives reduced sentence in Covid test kit bribery scandal

By VNA   May 17, 2024 | 04:10 pm PT
Former health minister receives reduced sentence in Covid test kit bribery scandal
Vietnam's former Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long (R) is taken to an appeal trial in Hanoi, May 17, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh
Former Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long and five other defendants in a major Covid-19 test kit scandal had their sentences reduced during an appeal court hearing in Hanoi on Friday.

Long’s sentence was reduced to 17 years from 18 years handed down in the first instance trial for accepting bribes, after he contributed an additional VND1 billion (US$41,600) to mitigate the overall consequences of the case.

The court upheld the original sentence for Phan Quoc Viet, General Director of Viet A Company, a total of 29 years in prison, including 14 years for "violating regulations on bidding, causing serious consequences" and 15 years for "offering bribes."

Other defendants were given jail terms ranging from 24 months to 15 years.

In December 2021, police arrested and initiated legal proceedings against Viet for raising the price of RT-PCR Covid-19 test kits and bribing health officials to secure sales.

Viet and company leaders admitted that they had worked with hospitals and disease control centers (CDCs) in cities and provinces to sell test kits at significantly inflated prices.

The Viet A company sold more than 4.5 million test kits, resulting in a loss of VND1,235 billion ($48.35 million), with over VND402 billion to the state budget.

In response, the Ministry of Public Security’s Investigation Agency froze transactions and deposits and confiscated a total of around VND1.7 trillion ($73.9 million) linked with this case.

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