Vietnam Party moves against top officials implicated in ongoing graft cases

By Vo Hai, Xuan Hoa   October 4, 2018 | 07:59 pm PT
Vietnam Party moves against top officials implicated in ongoing graft cases
Nguyen Bac Son (L), former Minister of Information and Communication, and Tran Van Minh, former chairman of Da Nang. Photo by VnExpress
A former information minister has lost his Party positions and a former chairman of Da Nang has been expelled.

The stringent punishments against former top officials were handed out at a key meeting of the Communist Party Central Committee that is underway in Hanoi.

Nguyen Bac Son, former Minister of Information and Communications, was retroactively stripped of his titles as member of the 11th Party Central Committee and Secretary of the ministry's Party unit for the term 2011-2016.

Of the four modes of punishment typically meted out by the Party, this is the second highest. The highest is expulsion, followed by demotion, warning and a reprimand.

Under Vietnam's regulations, officials punished by the Party would have their violations reviewed by the State and could be subjected to further administrative punishments.

The action against Son was taken after the Politburo, the Party's decision-making body, in July asked the Central Committee to initiate "strict" disciplinary action against him for his violations in the acquisition of private pay TV firm AVG by the state-owned telecom giant MobiFone.

The Politburo held Son mainly responsible for “very serious” violations committed by the information ministry's Party unit for the term 2011-2016. Son was found to have violated the democratic centralism principle and working regulations, enabling many "very serious" violations to take place.

Son directly approved projects against regulations and asked his subordinates to sign documents that did not adhere to regulations, the Politburo said. He had approved MobiFone's acquisition of AVG without the Prime Minister’s approval.

MobiFone, the country's third largest telecom firm, 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 that the deal had violated investment laws and caused an estimated loss of around VND7 trillion ($307 million) to the government.

A criminal investigation into the deal was launched in July. Truong Minh Tuan was dismissed as Minister of Information and Communications in July for signing the illegal deal when he was serving as a deputy minister.

The 12th Party Central Committee is gathering for its eighth plenum between Tuesday and Saturday, discussing major issues including personnel and socio-economic development.

The committee has expelled Tran Van Minh, former Deputy Secretary of Da Nang's Party Committee and former Chairman of Da Nang, from the Party. He was found guilty of land management violations linked to jailed real estate tycoon Phan Van Anh Vu.

The expulsion came after the Party's top watchdog, the Central Inspection Committee, concluded last month that during his time as Da Nang's top leader from 2011-2014, Minh had committed "very serious violations” that damaged the reputations of the Party unit and the administration of Da Nang.

He was found to have violated the democratic centralism principle as well as regulations on anti-corruption and wastefulness, land management, public property management, causing losses to the state budget.

Minh was arrested in April as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into Vu, who was sentenced to nine years in jail in July for "deliberate disclosure of state secrets."

Vu is still under investigation for "tax evasion," "abuse of power or position in performance of official duties," "abuse of power or position to appropriate property," and "violating regulations on the management and use of state-owned property that led to losses or squander" in separate cases.

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