Vietnam arrests MobiFone execs for illegal TV acquisition

By Ba Do   November 14, 2018 | 09:45 pm GMT+7

Police on Wednesday arrested former head and a deputy head of state-owned telecom giant MobiFone for violations in a television acquisition.

Cao Duy Hai, former general director of MobiFone, and Pham Thi Phuong Anh, deputy general director of the company, both face charges of "violating regulations on the management and use of public capital, causing serious consequences."

Cao Duy Hai, fallen CEO of telecom giant MobiFone. Photo by VnExpress/Dan Viet

Cao Duy Hai, fallen CEO of telecom giant MobiFone. Photo by VnExpress/Dan Viet

Last August, Hai, 57, had been removed from the company’s board after being found responsible for "serious violations" in the acquisition of private pay TV firm Audio Visual Global JSC (AVG).

The Central Inspection Commission of the Communist Party of Vietnam had said Hai personally worked with the MobiFone council on the acquisition and signed many documents in violation of laws to come up with a deal that caused a significant losses to the government.

Anh was directly involved in negotiations for the deal, investigation found.

MobiFone, the country's third largest telco, had made headlines early in 2016 when it announced it was breaking into the pay TV market with the acquisition of a 95 percent stake in AVG.

But the Government Inspectorate concluded the deal, which had not been approved by the prime minister, had violated investment laws and caused an estimated loss of around VND7 trillion ($307 million) to the government.

In August 2016, the Vietnamese government ordered an across-the-board inspection into the acquisition. MobiFone in May this year said it had been refunded in full by AVG after the deal between the companies fell through.

For their responsibility in the acquisition, former Minister of Information and Communication Nguyen Bac Son has been restropectively fired from his post for the term 2011-2016 and Truong Minh Tuan also lost his post as minister last July for signing the decision to approve the acquisition when he was serving as deputy minister.

Son directly approved the AVG acquisition against regulations and asked his subordinates to sign documents that did not abide by regulations, investigation found.

Actions in the MobiFone case came amid a corruption crackdown that has seen scores of senior government officials and executives of state-owned enterprises arrested and jailed in recent years.

Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, who spearheads the corruption fight, was sworn in as Vietnam's president last month, prompting experts' speculations that he will push the campaign to a new level.

Last Friday, police arrested former deputy labor minister Le Bach Hong to investigate violations at Vietnam Social Security.

Investigation found the agency had lended VND1.05 trillion ($45 million) to state-owned finance leasing firm, the Agribank Financial Leasing Company No 2 (ALC II) while it was only allow to lend money to state-run commercial banks. The company later went bankrupt, still owing VND770 billion plus interest.

 
 
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