Vietnam's corruption crackdown at all-time high: Party chief

By Staff reporters   December 28, 2017 | 02:03 am PT
Vietnam's corruption crackdown at all-time high: Party chief
Vietnam's Communist Party Chief Nguyen Phu Trong. Photo by VnExpress/Hong Vinh
Corruption cases, even those relating to high-profile officials, are being stamped out.

The fight against corruption and wastefulness has been stepped up a notch in recent months, said General Secretary of the Communist Party Nguyen Phu Trong.

“Serious corruption and economic cases, even those relating to high-level officials and retired leaders, have been resolved under Party regulations and State laws,” he said during an online government meeting on Thursday.

It was the first time the Party chief had attended a government meeting.

Trong asked authorities to widen the crackdown to ensure all corrupt officials are removed from the state apparatus.

Earlier this year, Trong said that Vietnam’s fight against corruption must continue to move forward at all costs.

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

More than 20 leaders and former leaders at the state-owned oil giant PetroVietnam (PVN) have been investigated. The biggest name so far is Dinh La Thang, who was also a former PVN board chairman and was sacked from his post as the Party leader of Ho Chi Minh City in May. Thang was arrested earlier this month after being voted out of the then 19-member Politburo, the Party’s decision-making body. He may receive 20 years in jail for “deliberately violating state regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences.”

Most recently, former PetroVietnam general director Phung Dinh Thuc is facing charges for violating financial regulations on several loss-making projects and over the promotion of two executives who have been caught up in serious legal turmoil, Trinh Xuan Thanh and Nguyen Xuan Son.

Runaway bigwig Thanh is a former board chairman and general director of PetroVietnam Construction Corporation (PVC). He is facing the death penalty for causing losses of around VND3.2 trillion ($147 million) at the unit and is set to stand trial in January.

In September, Nguyen Xuan Son, who served as PetroVietnam chairman from 2014 until his arrest in 2015, was sentenced to death for appropriating VND246 billion ($13.6 million) from OceanBank. The stake PetroVietnam bought in the bank indicates that Son stole VND49 billion in government money.

Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong admitted last year that immorality is eroding the ruling Communist Party, chipping away at public trust and threatening the political system.

Earlier in December, the Party issued new rules whereby it will expel any members that insult, damage its reputation or try to encourage others to do so in any form, including social media. Party members who accept bribes in return for hiring staff or granting pay rises, promotions or bonuses also face the same punishment.

“Massive corruption has been like rust eating away at the authority if not legitimacy of the Communist Party of Vietnam,” Carl Thayer, a veteran Australia-based expert, said. “This has been openly acknowledged by top Party officials for well over a decade.” 

"Each major corruption case is judged not only on the financial loss to the state but also on its impact on political stability."

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