Two former ministers face expulsion from party

By Viet Tuan   September 30, 2019 | 06:32 am PT
Two former ministers face expulsion from party
Former Ministers of Information and Communications Nguyen Bac Son (L) and Truong Minh Tuan. Photo acquired by VnExpress.
Two former ministers of information and communications face expulsion from the Communist Party for violations in the infamous TV firm acquistion case.

The Central Inspection Committee, the party’s top watchdog, on Monday asked the Politburo, the main decision-making body of the Communist Party, and the Secretariat of the Party Central Committee to consider revoking membership from Nguyen Bac Son and Truong Minh Tuan.

The move came seven months after both were arrested and put under criminal investigation for violations related to management and use of public capital and receiving bribes in the illegal acquisition of private pay TV firm Audio Visual Global JSC (AVG) by state-owned telecom giant Mobiphone in 2016.

Government inspectors later concluded that the deal had violated public investment laws and caused an estimated loss of about VND7 trillion ($307 million) to the state budget.

Son, then serving as the information minister, directly approved MobiFone's acquisition of AVG against regulations and asked subordinates to sign documents in contravention of regulations, investigators said

When the purchase was completed, Son received $3 million from Pham Nhat Vu, chairman of AVG, through 10 or so transfers to his daughter.

Son had given more than VND500 million ($21,530) to the police to "offset the consequences."

Tuan, who served as the information minister from April 2016 to July 2018 and as Son's deputy earlier, signed a decision to approve the acquisition without the Prime Minister’s approval.

Tuan also received multiple calls and text messages from Vu to "create conditions to quickly finish the stake buying process," the investigation found. He received $200,000 from Vu as the direct signatory of the decision taken by the information ministry to approve of the acquisition.

Tuan had given the police VND2.12 billion ($93,200) to "offset the consequences."

Investigations implicated 11 other people for violating regulations in management and use of public capital in the case, including MobiFone's former CEO Cao Duy Hai and former board chairman Le Nam Tra.

Vietnam's Communist Party has four modes of punishment for misconduct by official members: reprimand, warning, demotion and expulsion.

The TV firm acquistion is a major case in the corruption crackdown spearheaded by Party General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong.

The campaign has seen scores of officials and top businesspeople arrested and sent to jail in recent years. Trong has said that there will be no let up in the anti-corruption drive.

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