|Former Deputy Minister of Health Cao Minh Quang at the first-instance trial in Hà Nội on Monday morning.—VNA/VNS Photo Phạm Kiên|
HÀ NỘI — The People’s Court of Hà Nội on Monday morning opened the first-instance trial of former Deputy Minister of Health Cao Minh Quang and eight other defendants over a medicine deal that caused more than US$3.8 million in damages to the State budget.
The charges centre around the purchase of medicines to prevent and control the influenza A(H5N1) epidemic between the health ministry and Cửu Long Pharmaceutical Joint Stock Company.
The trial is set to last for five days and the panel, chaired by Judge Vũ Quang Huy, consists of three members.
Three prosecutors of the Supreme People's Procuracy and the Hà Nội People's Procuracy are assigned to exercise the right to prosecute and supervise at the trial.
Quang and four defendants, who are former officers of the ministry, were charged with "lack of responsibility, causing serious consequences," according to the provisions of Article 285, Clause 2 of the 1999 Penal Code.
Those four defendants are Dương Huy Liệu, former director of the ministry’s Planning and Finance Department; Nguyễn Nam Liên, former deputy director of the ministry’s Planning and Finance Department cum deputy head of the ministry’s Management Board of the plan for prevention and control of influenza A/H5N1 epidemic; Phạm Thị Minh Nga, former chief accountant of the Management Board; and Nguyễn Việt Hùng, former deputy director of the ministry’s Drug Administration of Việt Nam.
Three other defendants are Lương Văn Hóa, former general director of the company; Nguyễn Văn Thanh Hải; former chief accountant of the company; Ngô Hữu Hiếu Nghĩa, director of the company’s branch in HCM City and head of the company’s Export and Import Office. They are charged with "abusing positions and powers while performing official duties" according to the provisions of Article 356, Clause 3 of the 2015 Penal Code.
According to the indictment, in 2005, while the influenza A/H5N1 epidemic showed complex developments, the health ministry ordered the company to manufacture Oseltamivir drug from imported raw materials.
The purchase price of the drug is determined on the basis of the price of raw materials negotiated with a foreign supplier.
If the company negotiated to reduce the price of raw materials, the authorities would consider adjusting the price of the drug.
In 2006, the company imported 520kg of raw materials with a price of US$9.1 million from a foreign partner. The company already paid $5.252 million while the remaining $3.848 million was set to pay six months later from the date of receiving the raw materials.
However, the foreign partner then reduced the purchase price of the raw materials by $3.848 million for the company.
However, Hóa directed his subordinates to legalise business reports and documents to conceal the price reduction to illegally keep the amount of $3.848 million.
At that time, Quang was assigned to lead the steering committee to deal with issues related to Tamiflu, raw materials and Oseltamivir.
Quang knew that the company did not pay the amount of $3.848 million to the foreign partner but he did not direct relevant units to further clarify.
Later, the Ministry of Finance continued sending an official dispatch requesting the health ministry to clarify but Quang still failed to fulfil his assigned duties, allowing the company to embezzle and illegally use the money. — VNS