Former communications minister Nguyễn Bắc Son (middle, front row) faces the death penalty for taking bribes in the AVG deal on Friday. — VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — Prosecutors on Friday proposed the death penalty for former communications minister Nguyễn Bắc Son for bribery, making him the first minister in Việt Nam to face capital punishment.
As the trial on the high-profile case went into its fourth day, the People’s Procuracy accused Son of playing a ‘determining role’ and being the ‘mastermind’ in the State-owned communications group MobiFone’s scandalous purchase of 95 per cent of shares of Audio Visual Global JSC (AVG) at a much higher price than they were actually worth.
The 66-year-old former official was said to have ordered his subordinates to carry out the deal ‘for his own interests’ and received up to US$3 million from the AVG ex-chairman Phạm Nhật Vũ after the deal was inked.
“The defendant (Son) benefits the most with an especially large bribery amount and must bear the highest responsibility,” prosecutors said.
The Procuracy suggested Son receive between 16 and 18 years in prison for breaches in public investment management causing severe consequences, and the death penalty for taking bribes.
Son was the first high-level official to have admitted receiving under-the-table money, along with his successor Trương Minh Tuấn, 59, who was also involved in the AVG deal.
Bribery is a crime eligible for capital punishment under the Việt Nam’s Penal Code.
The AVG ex-chairman Vũ allegedly handed Tuấn $200,000, while MobiFone’s former chairman Lê Nam Trà, 58, took $2.5 million and the company’s CEO Cao Duy Hải, 58, another $500,000 from Vũ for help to smooth the deal.
It was suggested Tuấn get between six and seven years behind bars for breaches in public investment management causing severe consequences and eight to nine years for bribery.
He should face a combined jail term of between 14 and 16 years, according to prosecutors.
The prosecutors also asked to put Trà in prison for seven to eight years for management breaches and 16 to 17 years for taking bribery, which in total amounted to between 23 and 25 years.
Hải should face four to five years for the management charges plus 10 to 11 years for bribery. He was proposed a combined jail term of 14 to 16 years.
The 47-year-old businessman Vũ, meanwhile, was facing three to four years behind bars for giving bribes, said the Procuracy.
Several violations in the signing of the AVG deal only surfaced last year following a Government inspection into the purchase, which saw MobiFone buying 95 per cent of shares of the private firm AVG in 2015. The deal was concluded to have caused losses of approximately VNĐ6.47 trillion ($281.5 million) to the State and triggered a police investigation soon after.
It consequently led to the arrests of a number of high and middle level officials of the Ministry of Information and Communications, leaders of MobiFone and AMAX investment consultancy and valuation company.
Hà Nội People’s Court on Monday opened a trial against 14 defendants in the case, which is set to last until the end of this month.
The prosecutors also proposed jail terms of between two and six years for another nine defendants who are accused of breaches in public investment management causing severe consequences. — VNS
The People's Procuracy on Friday announced their punishment proposals for 14 defendants standing trial in the AVG case. — VNA/VNS Photo