Vietnam sends ex-ministers, executives, to prison for graft

Finance and Business

Vietnamese former Minister of information and communication Nguyen Bac Son, left, valuer Hoang Duy Quang, second left, former Mobifone Chairman Le Nam Tra, second right, former Minister of information and communication Truong Minh Tuan, right, stand as judge reads the verdicts at their trial in Hanoi, Vietnam Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. Hanoi court on Saturday sentenced Son to life imprisonment in a multi-million dollar corruption case that also saw another minister and a dozen executives receive lengthy prison terms. (Nguyen Van Diep/VNA via AP)

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HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A Vietnamese court on Saturday sentenced an ex-minister to life imprisonment in a multimillion-dollar corruption case that also saw another minister and a dozen executives receive lengthy prison terms, state media reported.

Nguyen Bac Son was accused of taking a bribe of $3 million to orchestrate the 2016 acquisition of a digital television service on behalf of state-owned Mobifone, one of major mobile network operators in Vietnam, when he was minister of information and communication.

Son, a former military officer, ordered the transaction that involved the purchase of 95% of shares of the indebted Audio Visual Global (AVG) company for an equivalent of $383.83 million — a price that had been inflated almost 10 times, national television VTV reported.

Son was sentenced to life for taking bribes plus 16 years on a charge of violating public investment management regulations. His combined punishment is life imprisonment, VTV quoted the presiding as saying after the two-week trial concluded in Hanoi.

Truong Minh Tuan, Son’s former deputy who succeeded him as minister at his retirement, was sentenced to 14 years in prison on the same charge. Tuan was accused of taking $500,000 in bribes to ink the acquisition deal.

Le Nam Tra, the former chairman of Mobifone, and Cao Duy Hai, the company’s former executive director, were handed 23 years and 14 years in prison, respectively, on bribery and mismanagement charges. Tra was accused of taking a $2.5 million bribe while Hai pocketed $500,000.

AVG CEO Pham Nhat Vu was sentenced to three years in prison on a charge of giving bribes.

Nine others, including officials and executives, got between two and six years in prison in the same case.

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