|The People’s Court of Hà Nội opened the first-instance trial on Thursday. — VNA/VNS Photo|
HÀ NỘI — The People’s Court of Hà Nội on Thursday opened the first-instance trial over price gouging at Hà Nội’s Centre for Disease Control.
There are 10 defendants involved in the case, including six from the CDC - former CDC Director Nguyễn Nhật Cảm, Nguyễn Vũ Hà Thanh, former head of Financial-Accounting Office, Nguyễn Thị Kim Dung, former head of the Organisation Office, Nguyễn Ngọc Quỳnh, former head of the Professional Plan Office, Hoàng Kim Thu, former chief accountant, and Lê Xuân Tuấn, a CDC official.
The four others are from private companies, namely Đào Thế Vinh, Director of Vietnam Scientific and Material Science Company Limited (MST), Nguyễn Trần Duy, General Director of Nhân Thành Asset Valuation and Auctioning JS, Nguyễn Ngọc Nhất, an employee of Vitech Development Co., Ltd, and Nguyễn Thanh Tuyền, an employee of Phuong Dong Medical Equipment Co., Ltd.
Twenty-seven lawyers have registered to represent the defendants at the court.
According to the indictment by the Supreme People’s Procuracy, taking advantage of the COVID-19 situation, from early February, former CDC Director Nguyễn Nhật Cảm colluded with Nhất, Tuyền and Vinh to raise the prices of medical machinery and equipment in a bidding package from CDC Hà Nội before carrying out normal procedures.
He then allegedly directed his employees to legalise all normal procedures, enabling MST to win the bid at a price they had agreed upon, resulting in an economic loss of more than VNĐ5.4 billion (US$233,200).
Procurators said Cảm was the mastermind.
The defendants earlier confessed to police they jacked up the price of the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) machines used in testing the new coronavirus by a factor of three.
Under Article 222 of the Penal Code, those who violate bidding regulations that cause serious consequences may face a sentence of 1-20 years in prison, depending on the level of infringement.— VNS