October 5, 2023
BANGKOK – The Supreme People’s Procuracy has started legal proceedings against 38 defendants related to the COVID-19 test kit case at Việt Á Company.
Former Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long and his former secretary Nguyễn Huỳnh were prosecuted for “receiving bribes”.
The former Minister of Health has so far returned most of the money he received, according to the police.
Four others prosecuted for the same charge are Phạm Duy Tuyến, former director of the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) of Hải Dương Province; Trịnh Thanh Hùng, former deputy director of the Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology; Nguyễn Minh Tuấn, former director of Medical Equipment and Construction, Ministry of Health; and Nguyễn Nam Liên, former director of Financial Planning Department, Ministry of Health.
Phan Quốc Việt, general director of Việt Á Company, and Vũ Đình Hiệp, the company’s deputy director, were prosecuted for “violating regulations on bidding causing serious consequences” and “giving bribes”.
Phan Tôn Noel Thảo and Hồ Thị Thanh Thảo, financial assistant and treasurer of Việt Á Company, were prosecuted for “giving bribes”.
Former Minister of Science and Technology Chu Ngọc Anh was prosecuted for “violating regulations on management and use of State assets, causing loss and waste”.
Other defendants include many directors and deputy directors at ministerial levels, provincial officials; leaders, medical staff, and CDC officials of 24 provinces and cities.
According to the indictment, Phan Quốc Việt, general director of Việt Á Company, was identified as the mastermind.
In early 2020, when COVID-19 broke out, learning about the policy of researching biological products for pandemic prevention and control, Việt asked to join the project.
Immediately after being transferred the test kit research process, Việt assigned his subordinates to continue developing it for production, then apply for a licence for circulation and commercial business.
Việt gave US$3.45 million and VNĐ4 billion to related officials to help his company get permission to participate in the test kit research and receive a registration number to circulate the products.
Former Health Minister Nguyễn Thanh Long received $2.2 million indirectly through his secretary and $50,000 directly. All were given by Phan Quốc Việt.
Long was prosecuted for receiving bribes while approving the issuance of circulation registration numbers, price negotiation, and price checks of COVID-19 test kits, causing particularly serious damage to the State’s assets.
According to the investigation, Long knew that the COVID-19 test kit was a product of a research project assigned by the Ministry of Science and Technology to the Military Medical Academy, which was owned by the State.
Việt Á Company was not eligible to be granted a circulation registration number, but at the request of Phan Quốc Việt, Long directed his subordinates to create conditions for the company to receive a temporary circulation registration number.
Long represented the Ministry of Health to negotiate the price of the test kit with Việt Á, with the participation of the Ministry of Finance’s representatives. — VNS