Trial council says 52 saving books of Việt Á CEO's mother must remain confiscated

May 17, 2024 - 09:00
The trial council said that the first-instance court determined that the money Việt obtained and transferred to his mother originated from illegal profits through the sale of COVID-19 test kits.
Defendants at the appeal trial in Hà Nội on Wednesday. — VNA/VNS Photo Phạm Kiên

HÀ NỘI — A total of 52 saving books, worth over VNĐ 412 billion (US$16.1 million) in the name of the mother of Phan Quốc Việt, CEO of Việt Á Technology Corporation will remain confiscated, an appeals court ruled yesterday.

The trial council of Hà Nội High People’s Court made the ruling on Thursday morning when it ran the three-day appellate trial of the high-profile Việt Á COVID-19 test kit scandal, after the mother of Việt asked the court to lift the confiscation order claiming the money was hers.

The trial council said that the first-instance court determined that the money Việt obtained and transferred to his mother originated from illegal profits through the sale of COVID-19 test kits, so the council trial of the appellate court would continue the confiscation to ensure enforcement of the judgement.

Previously, Đàm Thị Trinh, Việt’s mother, said between 2008 and 2018, she lent Việt money for business activities, totalling approximately over VNĐ400 billion ($15.6 million).

According to her, the source of the money came from her business activities, accumulated over many years, and she also borrowed from her friends. She also added that she inherited 1,000 taels of gold from her parents.

In October 2021, Việt transferred a total of VNĐ450 billion ($17.5 million) to his mother. His mother used part of it to repay debts to her friends, while the remainder was deposited in banks as 52 savings books, worth a total of VNĐ412 billion.

Regarding the source of this money, Việt claimed it came from various sources of income, primarily from the sale of the COVID-19 test kits.

Then, the trial council raised the question that why the loans were taken out in 2008 but only repaid in 2021.

Việt explained that previously he got no money to repay to his mother because "the money was all tied up in projects."

By 2021, with income from selling the COVID-19 test kits, Việt finally had money to repay. Additionally, the money also came from trading medical equipment and other products of the company.

The trial council continued asking whether there was a contract with official confirmation from authorities when he borrowed the money from his mother or not.

She said that because of their relationship, "they did not anticipate something like today happening, so they did not make a notarised contract."

The trial council said if Việt borrowed the money from his mother, it would be a different civil relationship, but the essence of the money he obtained was from illegal profits, so it had to be revoked.

However, she continued to claim that she did not know whether the money was illegal or not, she only knew she lent her son money and then she received the money when he repaid to her.

She claimed no involvement in her son's criminal activities, so she requested the cancellation of the seizure of 52 savings books.

In the meantime, Việt’s wife, Hồ Thị Thanh Thủy also submitted the court to cancel the seizure of two saving books, worth VNĐ20 billion ($780,000), in the name of their common children.

Also at the court, former Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long admitted to accepting bribes of US$2.25 million as stated in the first-instance verdict, without further defence.

The amount of $2.25 million was fully returned during the first-instance trial. Additionally, his family also paid an additional VNĐ1 billion ($39,000) to address the consequences of the case.

Defendant Trần Thanh Phong, former Deputy Director of the Finance and Accounting Office, of Bình Dương Province’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, who was the only one among the 11 defendants of the case to receive a suspended sentence but still appealed for a reduction in punishment.

The presiding judge already requested clarity on the content of the appeal that he wanted to ask for waiving criminal liability or seeking exemption from punishment.

Phong said that he was merely following orders from superiors and did not benefit from the case.

Therefore, Phong persisted in maintaining his appeal, hoping for the appellate court to consider exempting him from criminal liability.

The three-day court is schedule to wrap up on Friday. — VNS