Deputy health minister quits over scam

By Viet Tuan   June 6, 2022 | 05:11 pm PT
Deputy health minister quits over scam
Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Truong Son. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Chinh
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Truong Son, who was reprimanded recently in connection with a Covid-19 test kit scam, has decided to quit.

A source from the Health Ministry said Son has submitted his resignation letter and the government is considering it.

Son, 58, who is from HCMC, was appointed deputy health minister four years ago when he was director of HCMC’s Cho Ray Hospital, the largest public health facility in the south.

He was highly reputed as a doctor, especially for his contributions to the development of organ transplant techniques in Vietnam.

One of four deputy health ministers, he supervised the Covid-19 fight in major hotspots like Da Nang in mid-2020, Bac Giang and Bac Ninh provinces in early 2021 and in HCMC in late 2021.

In November last year he received an official rebuke from the Central Inspection Committee of the Communist Party for violations committed by his ministry's Drug Administration Department.

Last month the committee issued him a warning, a higher punishment, for his involvement in Viet A Company's test kit scam.

Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long was expelled from the Communist Party on Monday for his involvement in the scam, and the National Assembly is in the process of expelling him from the House.

The Central Inspection Committee had said in March that the Party Committee and officials at the health and science ministries had been negligent in 2016-21, and allowed wrongdoing in the approval, management and sale of Covid-19 test kits.

Phan Quoc Viet, general director of Viet A, admitted in January that he had inflated the price of the kits by 45 percent, bribed certain individuals and paid around VND800 billion ($35.2 million) as a "bonus" to company partners.

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

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