Vietnam to hear appeal of runaway oil bigwig in landmark corruption case next month

By Viet Dung   April 26, 2018 | 10:13 am GMT+7
Vietnam to hear appeal of runaway oil bigwig in landmark corruption case next month
Trinh Xuan Thanh, a former PetroVietnam executive, listens during a verdict session at a court in Hanoi. Photo by Vietnam News Agency via Reuters

Trinh Xuan Thanh said he did not commit the convicted crimes and Dinh La Thang said the verdict was not fair or objective.

Hanoi is scheduled to hold an appeal trial over corruption convictions against former PetroVietnam executives including a notorious runaway bigwig on May 7.

Hanoi Superior People's Court, an appellate jurisdiction, is going to spend 10 days hearing the appeals of Trinh Xuan Thanh, former chairman of PetroVietnam Construction JSC (PVC), Dinh La Thang, former chief of PetroVietnam, and 13 others convicted for million-dollar losses at the state oil giant at a trial in January.

Thanh, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for embezzlement and economic management violations, said he did not commit the crimes.

Thang, who received a 13-year sentence for economic management violations, said his punishment was "too harsh" and has appealed to have it commuted.

The verdict was not fair or objective in assessing his role in the case, the fallen political star said in his appeal letter.

Most of the other defendants, who received up to 22 years in prison, are also seeking commuted sentences.

Thang, 58, served as board chairman of PetroVietnam between 2006 and 2011, before his career took off as Minister of Transport in Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s cabinet and then Party leader of Ho Chi Minh City.

The indictment said he directly appointed Thanh as general director of PVC in December 2007, before making various promotion, funding and recruitment decisions to boost Thanh’s power and facilitate the company’s operations.

He was found responsible for Thanh’s actions that led to losses worth more than VND119 billion ($5.24 million) at one thermal power plant and embezzlement of VND4 billion ($176,000) at another.

Dinh La Thang, former chief of PetroVietnam, stands at a trial in Hanoi for causing multi-million dollar losses to the oil giant. Photo by Vietnam News Agency

Dinh La Thang, former chief of PetroVietnam, stands at a trial in Hanoi for causing multi-million dollar losses to the oil giant. Photo by Vietnam News Agency

Thang’s trial came swiftly a month after he was arrested. He was fired from the HCMC post and dismissed from the Politburo, the Communist Party’s decision-making body, in May, a move that international analysts have called “unprecedented.”

Thanh, 52, drew international attention by fleeing to Germany in 2016 after an investigation was opened into his wealth. Police in Hanoi said he returned last year and handed himself in.

Apart from the January trial, Thanh received his second life imprisonment for embezzlement at another PetroVietnam subsidiary in February, and Thang got an 18-year sentence for economic management violations in a $35 million graft case in March. They have also filed appeals against these sentences.

The PetroVietnam trials have reached a historic scale, marking a milestone in Vietnam’s fight against corruption.

Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, the 74-year-old leader of the sweeping campaign, has described it as being at an “all-time high,” and has urged authorities to keep up the momentum.

 
 
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