Health ministry official caught in Covid test kit scam

By Pham Du   May 25, 2022 | 12:24 am PT
Health ministry official caught in Covid test kit scam
Boxes of Covid-19 test kit by Viet A Technology Corporation in 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Tung
A drug price management official under the Ministry of Health was arrested for alleged power abuse, amid investigations into a Covid test kit scam involving the Viet A tech firm.

Nguyen Huynh, deputy head of the price management division of the Drug Administration of Vietnam, is being investigated for "abuse of power or position in performance of official duties," spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Security To An Xo said Wednesday.

Authorities said that when the Ministry of Health was processing documents for a Covid-19 test kit for Viet A Technology Corporation, Viet A's General Director Phan Quoc Viet approached Huynh.

Huynh was accused of abusing his power to illegally approve the distribution registration number of the Covid-19 test kit of Viet A.

The arrest was part of an ongoing investigation regarding violations that led to price inflation of Covid-19 test kits at Viet A and other relevant entities.

Viet 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.

Several officials, including high-ranking military generals and directors of the provincial Center for Diseases Control, have been arrested or put under criminal investigation for their involvement in the case.

The Communist Party's Central Inspection Committee last week asked the Politburo, the Party's decision-making body, to consider disciplinary actions for Hanoi chairman Chu Ngoc Anh, former Minister of Science and Technology, and Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long for violations of their ministries regarding the test kit scam.

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