Former communications minister Trương Minh Tuấn was taken to court on Monday morning. — VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — A highly anticipated trial in which two former communications ministers are facing bribery charges officially began on Monday and was due to last until the end of the year.
Retired minister Nguyễn Bắc Son, 66, and his successor Trương Minh Tuấn, 59, were taken to the Hà Nội People’s Court on Monday morning where they would stand trial for alleged breaches in the scandalous deal of the State-owned communications group MobiFone’s purchase of the Audio Visual Global JSC (AVG) back in 2015.
Sơn was accused of taking US$3 million while Tuấn received $200,000 from the AVG ex-chairman Phạm Nhật Vũ, 47, to help smooth the deal.
Vũ, who faced allegations of bribery and also appeared at court on Monday, was believed to have handed another $2.5 million to MobiFone’s former chairman Lê Nam Trà, 58, and $500,000 to the company’s CEO Cao Duy Hải, 58.
Former communications minister Nguyễn Bắc Son at court. — VNA/VNS Photo
The AVG case was the first time ever Vietnamese officials admitted taking such large bribes.
Such acts only came to light following a government inspection into the deal last year which saw MobiFone buying 95 per cent of shares of the private firm AVG. The purchase was concluded to have caused losses of approximately VNĐ6.47 trillion ($281.5 million) to the State and triggered a police investigation soon after.
Due to such tremendous losses, the ex-ministers and MobiFone executives had to face legal actions for their alleged breaches in public investment management causing severe consequences.
Another nine defendants who were officials of the Ministry of Information and Communications, leaders of MobiFone and AMAX investment consultancy and valuation company, went to trial under the same charge.
According to the Supreme People’s Procuracy, the defendants had shown repentance and responsibility to deal with the consequences of their deeds.
Trà and Hải had returned all of the money they "misappropriated", while former minister Tuấn gave back nearly $200,000. Former minister Son said that despite his urging, his family refused to co-operate and return the money, so he suggested refunding part of the money from his account at Vietcombank.
The trial is set to last for 15 days until December 31, including weekends. — VNS
The trial is set to last for 15 days until Dember 31, 2019. — VNA/VNS Photo