Sunday, September 15 2019

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AVG deal: Former minister Nguyễn Bắc Son accused of taking $3 million of bribery

Update: September, 03/2019 - 14:33
Former ministers of information and communications Nguyễn Bắc Son (left) and Trương Minh Tuấn. — Photo courtesy of Ministry of Public Security

HÀ NỘI — Two former communication ministers have been accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes to make sure the deal to sell AVG to the State-owned telecom corporation MobiFone went ahead smoothly.
Nguyễn Bắc Son, who has retired, and his successor, Trương Minh Tuấn, have been charged with bribery along with MobiFone executives Lê Nam Trà, former chairman of the members’ council and former CEO, Cao Duy Hải.
They are accused after an investigation into a deal which saw MobiFone purchase of 95 per cent of shares of the Audio Visual Global JSC (AVG), a private firm.
A number of other officials have also been charged after police released findings of their inquiry on Tuesday.
AVG ex-chairman Phạm Nhật Vũ is also accused in the conspiracy.
Vũ allegedly gave Son $3 million, Tuấn $200,000, Trà $2.5 million and Hải $500,000, to hurry the deal through, according to the police.
All of the defendants, except for Vũ, faced allegations of committing breaches in public investment management causing severe consequences.
They included officials of the Ministry of Information and Communications, leaders of MobiFone and AMAX investment consultancy and valuation company.
They are Son, Tuấn, and Phạm Đình Trọng, the ministry’s director of the enterprise management department and AMAX director Võ Văn Mạnh and valuation officer Hoàng Duy Quang. Others from MobiFone were Trà, Hải and a member of the members’ council Phan Thị Hoa Mai as well as five deputy CEOs including Phạm Thị Phương Anh, Hồ Tuấn, Nguyễn Đăng Nguyên, Nguyễn Bảo Long and Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng.
The AVG deal in December 2015 was concluded to have caused losses of approximately VNĐ6.47 trillion ($281.5 million) to the State.
As the Government began to scrutinise the deal last year, Mobifone and AVG decided to terminate the transfer of 344.66 million shares and refund each other the amount received under the agreement.
The Government Inspectorate however said that anyone responsible for the deal “must bear their due responsibility” despite it being cancelled. — VNS

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