|Defendants in the petroleum smuggling case stand on trial on Tuesday. VNA/VNS Photo|
ĐỒNG NAI — The trial of 74 people accused of running a US$130 million petrol smuggling ring has gotten underway at the People's Court of southern Đồng Nai Province.
It is expected to last between 45 and 60 days and will hear testimonies from 43 witnesses.
Due to the large number of participants in the proceedings, the trial is taking place at the Đồng Nai Province’s Conference Centre.
The panel is chaired by Judge Nguyễn Văn Thành, Chief of Criminal Court of Đồng Nai Province People's Court. On behalf of the provincial People's Procuratorate, there was Procurator Doãn Cao Sơn, who took charge of the prosecution with lawyers Nguyễn Phước Vinh, Nguyễn Chính Tâm and Đào Thị Quỳnh Giang.
The defendants were escorted to the courtroom at 7am. A number of other defendants who were released on bail were also summoned at the trial.
According to the indictment, Đào Ngọc Viễn, 54, residing in HCM City’s Tân Bình District, Phan Thanh Hữu, 65, in Bình Thạnh District, and Phùng Danh Thoại, former head of the Petroleum Office’s Logistics Department of the Coast Guard Command has a long-standing relationship.
In May, 2019, it is alleged that Viễn and Hữu asked Thoại to use his influence to help smuggle about 200 million litres of gasoline, worth VNĐ53.4 billion (US$130 million), from Singapore to Việt Nam for consumption.
Hữu was in charge of managing the money, finding customers and giving bribes to forces. Viễn was responsible for carrying petroleum from Singapore to Việt Nam by vessels, and mobilising another vessel to transport petroleum to Nguyễn Hữu Tứ, 56, in Cần Thơ Province and Trần Thị Thanh Vân, 54, in Bình Dương Province.
Tứ and Vân would later distribute the petroleum to petrol stations in many localities.
From March 2020 to February 2021, it is alleged that Viễn profited illegally making more than VNĐ46.7 billion ($1.87 million), Hữu over VNĐ156.2 billion ($6.2 million), Thoại over VNĐ22 billion ($885,222), Tứ nearly VNĐ83 billion ($3.3 million), and Vân VNĐ18 billion ($724,270). — VNS