Health minister, Hanoi chairman answerable for Covid test kit scam

By Hoang Thuy   March 31, 2022 | 05:42 am PT
Health minister, Hanoi chairman answerable for Covid test kit scam
Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Minh
The health minister, Hanoi chairman and other senior officials bear responsibility for a Covid-19 test kit scam scandal involving the Viet A Technology Corporation, the Party's top watchdog said Thursday.

Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long, chairman of Hanoi People's Committee Chu Ngoc Anh who is former minister of Science and Technology, Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Truong Son and Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Pham Cong Tac and some other officials of the two ministries are responsible for negligence that allowed violations in the approval, management and sale of Covid-19 test kits, the Communist Party Central Inspection Committee has concluded.

"Such violations have caused severe consequences, losses to state capital and property, caused social distress and affected the reputation of the Party, the health ministry and the science ministry, to the point where disciplinary action must be considered," the inspection committee said.

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 to earn over VND500 billion.

The police have said that certain officials have conspired with leaders of local Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to win bids for Viet A's test kits.

Previously, 25 people, including high-ranking officials of provincial CDCs, were investigated for involvement in the Viet A scam.

Two military officials were arrested earlier this month and are being investigated for embezzlement, power abuse and bidding violations.

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