Provincial Party chief to retire early after rebuke for hiring notorious energy bigwig

By Cuu Long   October 12, 2017 | 01:56 pm GMT+7

Last year, Tran Cong Chanh said he had felt ashamed for recruiting former PetroVietnam exec Trinh Xuan Thanh.

The Party secretary of Hau Giang Province, who was rebuked last year for recruiting fallen energy executive Trinh Xuan Thanh, has been given official permission to leave his post two years early.

Tran Cong Chanh, 58, said his retirement request was due to health reasons and had been approved by the Communist Party's Central Committee, Vietnam's most powerful administrative body.

“I am receiving treatment for multiple illnesses,” he said.

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Tran Cong Chanh, Party secretary of Hau Giang Province. Photo by VnExpress/Cuu Long

Chanh said that he had expressed his intention to step down on several occasions but had been encouraged to keep his position, which he was appointed to in October 2015.

His first resignation request in late 2016 was turned down.

The letter, which cited family reasons, came around the time he received an official rebuke from the Party for appointing Trinh Xuan Thanh as his deputy in May 2015 while he was chairman of the southern province.

A rebuke is an official form of punishment handed down by the Party to its members, which is heavier than a warning but lighter than demotion or expulsion.

Chanh said he had suffered sleepless nights following the punishment and felt ashamed about his role in recruiting Thanh, who served in the post for a year before fleeing overseas following a management scandal at PetroVietnam.

Thanh, 51, is accused of mismanagement and causing losses of around VND3.2 trillion ($147 million) at PetroVietnam Construction JSC (PVC) when he was director general and chairman of the board between 2007 and 2013.

He only caught media attention in June 2016 for driving a $230,000 Lexus with a government license plate in a country where the average annual income is around $2,200. The scandal caused uproar over the use of public money, prompting Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong to order a probe into his political career and how he had been promoted.

The Ministry of Public Security issued an international arrest warrant for him in September 2016. Police said he turned himself in last July.

The scandal surrounding Thanh has left many government officials in legal turmoil.

In August, the country fired Vice Minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa for appointing Thanh as the ministry's deputy chief of staff in early 2015. Former minister Vu Huy Hoang was also rebuked.

Dinh La Thang also lost his position as Party leader of Ho Chi Minh City in May as punishment for bad business decisions made when he was chairman at PetroVietnam between 2009 and 2011.

Six other executives at the fuel giant have been detained.