Vietnam presses further charges against high-profile corruption target

By Viet Dung   December 22, 2017 | 10:58 am GMT+7
Vietnam presses further charges against high-profile corruption target
Dinh La Thang served as board chairman of state energy giant PetroVietnam between 2006 and 2011 before his political career took off as Minister of Transport in Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s cabinet. File photo

Dinh La Thang is facing separate charges of economic mismanagement at a state oil firm and the scandal-hit OceanBank.

Vietnam’s investigators are seeking charges against the once-rising political star Dinh La Thang for economic mismanagement in two separate cases regarding million-dollar losses at fuel giant PetroVietnam.

Investigators at the Ministry of Public Security said on Thursday that Thang should be charged with “deliberate violation of state regulations on economic management", causing serious losses at PetroVietnam Construction Corporation (PVC) and separately for a failed investment in the scandal-hit OceanBank.

The Supreme People's Procuracy, Vietnam's highest prosecutors' agency, will consider ratifying the charges.

The PVC case involves the notorious runaway Trinh Xuan Thanh, PVC’s former board chairman and general director who is set to stand trial in January for causing losses of around VND3.2 trillion ($147 million) at the unit.

According to the investigation, Thang, as board chairman of the state-owned PetroVietnam, appointed Thanh as PVC’s general director in December 2007, before making various promotion, funding and recruitment decisions to boost Thanh’s power and facilitate the company’s operations.

In 2010, Thang assigned PVC to be in charge of a thermal power plant without assessing its capability or experience, and his poor supervision caused losses worth more than VND119 billion ($5.24 million) to the state budget.

Thanh also allegedly embezzled VND4 billion ($176,000) at another PVC thermal power project.

In the OceanBank case, PetroVietnam held a VND800 billion ($35 million) stake in the lender, but that was completely written off when the central bank took it over in 2015.

According to investigators, despite OceanBank’s “small and inefficient” operations back in 2008, Thang plowed ahead with a 20 percent stake purchase without appraising it or reporting the venture to the then prime minister.

Thang served as board chairman of the state-owned PetroVietnam between 2006 and 2011 before his political career took off as Minister of Transport in Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s cabinet.

His political career was all but doomed in May, when he was voted out of the then 19-member Politburo, the Party’s decision-making body, and later fired as the top leader of Ho Chi Minh City. He was later appointed as deputy head of the Central Economic Commission, which advises the Party on economic policies.

The prosecution's proposals against Thang come shortly after his arrest on December 8 that riveted the nation. Thang’s younger brother Dinh Manh Thang, another oil executive, was arrested the next day as part of the corruption crackdown.

Vietnam’s energy and banking sectors have been the center of the sweeping cleanup spearheaded by Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong. Scores of people have been ensnared.

 
 
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