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MobiFone-AVG deal: two former ministers prosecuted

HÀ NỘI — The Supreme People’s Procuracy on Saturday began the prosecution of two former ministers of information and communications.

Ex-heads of the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) Nguyễn Bắc Son and Trương Minh Tuấn, along with 12 other defendants, are being prosecuted over MobiFone’s purchase of 95 per cent of shares of the Audio Visual Global JSC (AVG).

Sơn and Tuấn were indicted on charges of “violating regulations on the management and use of public capital, causing serious consequences” under Article 220, Clause 3 of the 2015 Criminal Code.

Eleven others accused of the same charge are Phạm Đình Trọng, former head of the MIC’s Department of Enterprise Management; Võ Văn Mạnh and Hoàng Duy Quang from AMAX investment consultancy and valuation company; three former MobiFone leaders - Lê Nam Trà, Cao Duy Hải and Phan Thị Hoa Mai; and five former deputy general directors of MobiFone – Phạm Thi Phương Anh, Hồ Tuấn, Nguyễn Đăng Nguyên, Nguyễn Bảo Long and Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng.

Meanwhile, Phạm Nhật Vũ, former AVG chairman, is being prosecuted for giving bribes.

At the same time, Sơn, Tuấn, Hải and Trà are charged with receiving bribes.

Among the 14 defendants, eight have been detained.

According to the indictment, in 2015, the MIC-run MobiFone bought 95 per cent of AVG with VNĐ8.9 trillion (US$382.7 million), many times higher than the real value of the struggling AVG at that time.

During the purchasing process, Sơn, Tuấn, Trà and Hải reportedly made use of their positions to speed up the deal without the approval of the Prime Minister, despite their knowledge of the poor financial and business situation of AVG. The deal caused losses of more than VNĐ6.47 trillion ($278.21 million) to the State.

Sơn also allegedly received $3 million from AVG chairman Vũ while Trà, Hải and Tuấn got $2.5 million, $500,000 and $200,000, respectively, to accelerate the transaction.

The families of Trà, Hải and Tuấn have handed over more than VNĐ68 billion in total to the Investigation Police Authority under the Ministry of Public Security to make up for the losses they caused.

Authorities have seized Sơn and Tuấn’s houses and land and frozen their bank accounts.


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