Hải Dương Province's former Party Secretary, health department director detained in COVID-19 test kits scandal

September 18, 2022 - 10:22
Both are under investigation for abuse of power in connection with the COVID-19 test kit purchases and bidding scandal at Việt Á Company.
From left: Former Secretary of Hải Dương Province's Party Committee Phạm Xuân Thăng, and former director of Hải Dương's Department of Health Phạm Mạnh Cường. — VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — The investigation agency of the Ministry of Public Security on Saturday issued a detainment and prosecution decision against former Secretary of the Hải Dương Province Party Committee Phạm Xuân Thăng along with former director of the provincial health department Phạm Mạnh Cường.

Both are under investigation for abuse of power in connection with the COVID-19 test kit purchases and bidding scandal at Việt Á Company. More than 90 people, including several local and central-level leaders, have been put behind bars - most notably the former health along with science and technology ministers.

Lieutenant General Tô Ân Xô, Chief of the Office and spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Security, said the Supreme People's Procuracy has approved the above decisions and orders.

Thăng and Cường committed acts of "abusing their position and authority, to direct the violations of bidding law to help Việt Á Company gain massive illegal profits, causing particularly serious losses to State assets," according to the police spokesperson.

The Police Investigation Agency of the Ministry of Public Security is continuing to expand the investigation; reviewing and freezing the assets of the accused to ensure thorough recovery of State finances.

This is the latest development in the investigation into the case of violating regulations on bidding causing serious consequences, giving bribes, accepting bribes and abusing positions and powers while performing related official duties surrounding the price hike of Việt Á's COVID-19 test kits.

During a meeting of the Politburo and the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat chaired by Party General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng on Friday, Thăng was suspended from Party activities and positions while he awaits further disciplinary actions from the Party Central Committee, while Cường was expelled from the Party.

Previously in Hải Dương, the investigation agency prosecuted and detained Phạm Duy Tuyến, director of Hải Dương Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Nguyễn Mạnh Cường, former chief accountant of the CDC.

Tuyên was accused of accepting VNĐ27 billion (US$1,140) in bribes from Việt Á.

Việt Á Company has provided COVID-19 test kits to 62/63 localities in the country, collecting nearly VNĐ4 trillion (US$169 million) in revenue.

The director of the company Phan Quốc Việt, who conspired with several heads of CDCs to hike up the price of the test kits by up to 45 per cent, has been charged with bribery and violating bidding laws causing serious consequences. — VNS