Vietnam fires vice trade minister as corruption probe widens

By Anh Minh   August 15, 2017 | 09:34 pm PT
Vietnam fires vice trade minister as corruption probe widens
Ho Thi Kim Thoa, who has just been fired as Vietnam's vice minister of trade. File photo
She is accused of financial malfeasance at a former state firm and the illegal appointment of a runaway bigwig.

The Vietnamese government sacked its vice minister of trade on Wednesday as the country continues its crackdown on malfeasance at the much-cosseted yet inefficient public sector.

Ho Thi Kim Thoa, who had been subject to an investigation regarding financial malfeasance at the electricity firm Dien Quang Lamp and the illegal appointment of the former oil executive Trinh Xuan Thanh, will be assigned a different role by the ministry, the government said in a statement without providing further details.

Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party asked for her dismissal two weeks ago.

Thoa approved the appointment of former PetroVietnam Construction Joint Stock Corp (PVC) chairman and ex-provincial leader Trinh Xuan Thanh, whom police said turned himself in on July 31 after a 10-month international manhunt. Thanh, 51, held various government positions including deputy chief of staff at the Ministry of Industry and Trade after serving as general director and chairman of PVC, where he is accused of causing losses of around VND3.2 trillion ($147 million).

Last February, Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong ordered the Central Inspection Commission to investigate allegations that Thoa and her family had held shares worth hundreds of billions of dong in the state-owned Dien Quang Lamp before it was privatized in 2005.

According to media reports, last year Thoa and her family held close to a 35 percent stake in the company worth around VND700 billion ($30 million). Her 1.7 million shares in Dien Quang were alone worth VND100 billion ($4.3 million). Vietnam’s average annual income was around $2,200 last year.

Shares in Dien Quang, where some of Thoa’s relatives are still key stakeholders along with the Canada-based Enterprise Capital Management, have fallen about 40 percent since October 2016, Reuters reported.

Thoa worked at Dien Quang for 18 years as chairwoman and CEO before being promoted to the ministry in 2010.

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