Hanoi chairman dismissed over Covid test kit scam

By Vo Hai   June 7, 2022 | 01:26 am PT
Hanoi chairman dismissed over Covid test kit scam
Former chairman of the Hanoi People's Committee Chu Ngoc Anh in a science-technology conference on May 15, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
Hanoi chairman Chu Ngoc Anh was dismissed from his position by the Hanoi People’s Council Tuesday for his involvement in a Covid-19 test kit scam.

This is the second time in two years that a chairman of the capital city has been dismissed from the position. Anh's predecessor, Nguyen Duc Chung, was dismissed after being arrested in September 2020 for alleged involvement in several criminal cases.

Anh and former health minister Nguyen Thanh Long had been expelled from the Communist Party Monday for culpability in the Covid-19 test kit scam. Long was dismissed as health minister Tuesday morning.

Chu Ngoc 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 Chung. He was tasked with leading Hanoi as it struggled with the Covid-19 pandemic. During his 1.5-year tenure, 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.

The Party's Central Inspection Committee last month had proposed that the Party Politburo considers disciplinary action against the Party Committees of the ministries of Science and Technology and Health for the 2016-2021 period.

The Politburo and the Secretariat concluded that Anh and Long, who led the respective ministries, had violated Party and State 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."

The Central Inspection Committee had said in March that the Party Committee and officials of the health and science ministries for the 2016-2021 term had been negligent in their management, allowing violations 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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