Corruption crackdown reaches high

Update: December, 08/2017 - 22:00
Đinh La Thăng. — VNA/VNS Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — A former member of the Party Politburo and deputy head of the Party Central Committee’s Economic Commission has become the highest-ranked official yet to be snared by the anti-corruption drive initiated by Party General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng.

Đinh La Thăng, former Chairman of the Member Council of the State-owned PetroVietnam (PVN), was arrested yesterday and temporary stripped of his titles.

He will face legal proceedings for his alleged involvement in two serious economic mismanagement cases, resulting in great losses to the State assets.

The decision to arrest Thăng was taken by the Investigative Police Department under the Ministry of Public Security.

Thăng is accused of involvement in a case of deliberate violation of the State’s regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences (Article 165 of the Penal Code), and for abusing his position and authority to arrogate property (Article 280 of the Penal Code), causing losses of VNĐ 800 billion (US$35.2 million) to PVN’s investment in OceanBank.

He is also accused of having a role in the deliberate violation of the State’s regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences and committing embezzlement (Article 278 of the Penal Code) in the Thái Bình 2 thermal power project implemented by the PetroVietnam Construction Corporation.

On the same day, the Politburo yesterday issued a decision suspending Thăng’s Party membership and related activities with immediate effect.

Also yesterday, the National Assembly Standing Committee adopted a resolution suspending Đinh La Thăng as a member of parliament.

Negligent advice

In April this year, the Party Central Committee’s Inspection Commission had decided to consider disciplinary action against seven former top executives of PetroVietnam, including Đinh La Thăng.

Đinh La Thăng was Secretary of the Party Committee and Chairman of the PetroVietnam Group from 2009-2011.

The Commission found that the group’s Party Committee Standing Board had been negligent in advising the PetroVietnam Party Committee on a 2009 resolution that approved illegal contract packages, and a 2011 resolution on investing in OceanBank, contrary to the Law on Credit Institutions, which resulted in a loss of VNĐ900 billion ($39.59 million), including VNĐ800 billion ($35.19 million) for OceanBank. 

The Commission asked the Party Committee of the Central Business Bloc to take quick disciplinary action against the PetroVietnam Party Committee’s Standing Board.

It found that Thăng bore prime responsibility for resolutions and wrongdoings by the Party Committee Standing Board and the Member Council of PetroVietnam during the 2009-2011 tenure.

Thăng was also held responsible for the Member Council’s resolutions authorising bidding packages in violation of Government decrees and advising the then Prime Minister to approve many bidding packages that failed to meet legal conditions.

He was also found responsible for violations of the Law on Bidding related to the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the Dung Quất Biofuel Plant, as well as low investment efficiency in a number of projects, including the Đình Vũ Polyester manufacturing plant and several bio-energy projects.

Furthermore, Thăng was found to have violated working regulations of the group’s Board of Directors by signing an agreement on contributing 20 percent and upwards of OceanBank’s capital before it got the approval of the Board of Directors.

Later, Thăng received an official warning and was removed from the Politburo of the Party Central Committee for his wrongdoings as head of the National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam).

Thăng’s arrest is the strongest action yet taken against a former Politburo member under the intensive corruption crackdown.

The crackdown has attracted a great deal of public attention and been referred to as a “burning hot stove.”

In connection with Thăng’s arrest, the National Assembly also adopted a resolution on the prosecution, arrest, search, and temporary suspension of a NA deputy Nguyễn Quốc Khánh, another former Chairman of the PVN. --VNS