Vietnam information minister suspended in TV acquisition case

By Viet Tuan   July 22, 2018 | 10:01 pm PT
Vietnam information minister suspended in TV acquisition case
Information minister Truong Minh Tuan got temporarily suspended from his position on Monday. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
Truong Minh Tuan, Minister of Information and Communications, has been temporarily suspended by President Tran Dai Quang.

The presidential decision was announced on Monday.

Tuan, the former deputy information minister from 2011 to 2016, had signed the decision to approve the illegal acquisition of private pay TV firm AVG by the state-owned MobiFone without the Prime Minister’s approval.

The Politburo, the Party’s decision-making body, said Tuan’s violations were “incredibly severe.”

It is the first time in years that an active minister in Vietnam is being suspended.

MobiFone, the country's third largest telecommunications firm, 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 government inspectors concluded that the deal had violated investment laws and caused an estimated loss of about VND7 trillion ($307 million) to the state budget.

On July 12, the Politburo gave Tuan an official warning and relieved him from his current position as Secretary of the ministry's Party unit. It also asked the Party Central Committee to initiate "strict" disciplinary action against his predecessor Nguyen Bac Son, who had approved the illegal TV acquisition.

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

Regarding the MobiFone case, Le Nam Tra, 57, the company's former chairman and general director, and Pham Dinh Trong, 48, head of the Department of Enterprise Management under the information ministry, were arrested earlier this month and are facing charges of "violating regulations on the management and use of public capital, causing serious consequences."

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