|Defendants in the record fuel smuggling case on trial on Tuesday. VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — Fourteen defendants, including high-ranking officials from the Border and Coast guards, stand accused of smuggling 200 million litres of RON 95 petrol worth around VNĐ2.8 trillion (US$130 million) into Việt Nam.
The defendants, who include regional commanders, are accused of smuggling, accepting bribes and helping people illegally flee abroad.
Four defendants are from the Coast Guard Command. They are; Phùng Danh Thoại, former head of the Petroleum Office’s Logistics Department; Lê Văn Minh, former commander of the Fourth Region; Lê Xuân Thanh, former commander of the Third Region; and Lưu Thế Đức, former deputy head of Reconnaissance No2.
Five others are from the regional Border Guard; Nguyễn Thế Anh, former commander of Kiên Giang Province’s Border Guard; Phạm Văn Trên, former commander of Trà Vinh Province’s Border Guard; Nguyễn Văn Hùng, former head of Trường Long Hòa Port Border Gate in Trà Vinh Province Border Guard; Nguyễn Thanh Lâm, former head of Squadron 2 of Sóc Trăng Province’s Border Guard; and Sơn Hoàng Ngự, Trường Long Hòa Port Border Gate employee.
The remaining defendants are Lê Văn Phương, former deputy head of Trà Vinh Province Police’s Traffic Police Department, and four other defendants, Nguyễn Văn An, residing in HCM City, Phan Thị Xuân in Bà Rịa - Vũng Tàu Province, Phạm Hồ Hải in Cần Thơ City and Cao Phước Hoài in Bình Định Province.
A total of 16 lawyers have registered to represent the defendants in court.
The Central Military Procuracy has charged Phùng Danh Thoại with smuggling, while Nguyễn Thế Anh was charged with accepting bribes and helping people illegally flee abroad, as prescribed in the Vietnamese Penal Code.
Nguyễn Văn An, Nguyễn Văn Hùng, Phạm Văn Trên, Lê Văn Minh, Lê Xuân Thanh, Phan Thị Xuân, Nguyễn Thanh Lâm, Phạm Hồ Hải, Lê Văn Phương, Lưu Thế Đức, and Sơn Hoàng Ngự face charges of accepting bribes.
Cao Phước Hoài has been charged with failing to report the crime.
According to the indictment, Đào Ngọc Viễn, director of the Hải Phòng Ocean, and Phan Thanh Hữu, director of Phan Lê Hoàng Anh, asked Thoại to use his influence on the Coast Guard to help smuggle of about 200 million litres of gasoline, worth about $130 million, into Việt Nam.
Thoại contributed VNĐ5 billion ($213,730) and in return made profits of more than VNĐ22 billion ($940,410) between September 2019 and February 2021.
Nguyễn Thế Anh took advantage of his position and power to help cover the gasoline smuggling activities and took bribes of VNĐ6.2 billion ($265,020) and $560,000.
Anh asked his cousin, Nguyễn Văn An, to receive money between October 2019 and January 2021. From February 2021, Anh also asked Cao Phước Hoài and Nguyễn Văn Quân to help receive money.
Between December 2019 and January 2021, former commander Lê Văn Minh received VNĐ6.9 billion ($294,940) to help cover the smuggling activities, while Lê Xuân Thanh asked his wife, Phan Thị Xuân, to receive VNĐ1.8 billion ($76,940) from gasoline smuggler Phan Thanh Hữu.
Several suspects, including Phan Thanh Hữu and Đào Ngọc Viễn, have been put on trial in Đồng Nai Province.
The trial is expected to last for three days. — VNS