Vietnam appoints provincial Party chief as new chairman of embattled national oil giant

By Anh Minh   December 24, 2017 | 08:22 pm GMT+7

The chairman seat at PetroVietnam has been vacant since March, while scores of its current and former leaders are under investigation.

Vietnam's Politburo, the Communist Party's decision-making body, on Sunday appointed a provincial Party chief as the new board chairman of the state-owned oil giant PetroVietnam (PVN).

Tran Sy Thanh, member of the Central Committee and chief of the Party unit of Lang Son Province, would accordingly become the new head of the embattled state corporation. He would also serve as vice head of the Central Economic Commission following the arrest of his predecessor Dinh La Thang earlier this month.

Tran Sy Thanh has been appointed as the new chairman of PetroVietnam.

Tran Sy Thanh has been appointed as the new chairman of PetroVietnam. File photo

Meanwhile Lam Thi Phuong Thanh, member of the Central Committee and vice head of the Party's Central Propaganda Department, has been appointed as the new Party chief of Lang Son for the 2015-2020 term.

Unlike his predecessors, Sy Thanh, 46, has no prior experience in the oil and gas sector. His previous positions include chief of staff of the State Treasury, deputy director of the State Treasury, Party chief of Bac Giang Province and vice chairman of the Central Inspection Commission.

PVN's board chairman seat has been vacant since the Party transferred then-chairman Nguyen Quoc Khanh to the Ministry of Industry and Trade in March without appointing a successor. During this time, the oil giant was instead headed by general director Nguyen Vu Truong Son.

Khanh has since been arrested as part of Vietnam's sweeping corruption crackdown at PetroVietnam and the banking sector. The crackdown, which was spearheaded by Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong, has netted scores of officials.

More than 20 leaders and former leaders at PVN have been investigated. The biggest name so far is Thang, who was also a former PVN board chairman and was sacked from his post as the Party leader of Ho Chi Minh City in May.

Most recently, former general director Phung Dinh Thuc was charged over allegations of violating financial regulations on several loss-making projects and over the promotion of two executives who have been caught up in serious legal turmoil, Trinh Xuan Thanh and Nguyen Xuan Son.

Xuan Thanh was CEO and chairman of PetroVietnam Construction Corporation from 2007 before he was appointed as a chief representative at the trade ministry in 2013. He reportedly turned himself in last summer after fleeing to Europe and is set to stand trial next month for causing losses of around VND3.2 trillion ($147 million) at the construction unit.

Son, who rose from deputy general director to board chairman of PVN in 2014, was sentenced to death last September for a multi-million-dollar graft case at OceanBank, in which the fuel giant held a 20 percent stake.