Trial begins of former military members, business executives and public officers involved in Viet A case

The Military Court of Hanoi opened the first-instance trial for seven defendants in the Covid-19 test kit case at Viet A Company and the Vietnam Military Medical University.

Viet Nam News

Viet Nam News



Defendants at the trial on Wednesday at the Military Court of Hanoi. PHOTO: VNA/VNS

December 29, 2023

HÀ NỘI — The Military Court of Hà Nội on Wednesday opened the first-instance trial for seven defendants in the COVID-19 test kit case at Việt Á Company and the Việt Nam Military Medical University (VMMU).

They include four former officers at the university, who are Hồ Anh Sơn (former Colonel, Deputy Director of the Institute of Biomedicine and Pharmacy); Nguyễn Văn Hiệu (former Senior Colonel, head of the equipment and supplies department); Ngô Anh Tuấn (former Major, head of the finance department); and Lê Trường Minh (former Major, head of pharmaceutical chemistry at the equipment and supplies department).

Phan Quốc Việt and Vũ Đình Hiệp, respectively Việt Á Company’s general director and deputy director, are also present at the trial, alongside Trịnh Thanh Hùng, former head of the Department of Science and Technology for Economic-Technical Sectors (under the Ministry of Science and Technology – MoST).

The prosecution has begun against Trịnh Thanh Hùng, Hồ Anh Sơn and Phan Quốc Việt for “abusing position and power while performing official duties” according to Article 356, Clause 3 of the Penal Code, and the remaining four defendants for “violating bidding regulations leading to serious consequences” (Article 222, Clause 3 of the Penal Code).

According to the Central Military Procuracy’s indictment, the VMMU board of directors proposed to the MoST a research project to develop COVID-19 test kits.

Since January 2020, Trịnh Thanh Hùng allegedly colluded with Hồ Anh Sơn and Phan Quốc Việt to bring Việt Á Company into the project as a coordinator and manufacturer of 20,000 trial test kits, which would later be illegally licensed for commercial production.

On February 6, 2020, a contract was signed between the VMMU and the State-level Key Programmes Office (under the Department of Science and Technology for Economic-Technical Sectors) to carry out the project with a total budget of nearly VNĐ19 billion (US$780,000).

According to the procuracy, Hùng asked Sơn to prepare a document to request an evaluation from the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology for the test kits from the research.

However, he agreed with Sơn and Việt to use test kits provided by Việt Á (which did not follow the process stated in the VMMU research) for trial, violating regulations regarding research and contracts between the VMMU and MoST departments, said the procuracy.

The procuracy identified Hùng as the initiator, playing the key role in the case, and must bear the damage of nearly VNĐ18.5 billion ($759,000).

The indictment also determines Hồ Anh Sơn’s active role in the case, receiving an alleged bribe of VNĐ2.4 billion ($98,480) from Phan Quốc Việt.

The procuracy added that Sơn also abused his position and power in the sale and purchase of cotton swabs and specimen containers with the label of the VMMU Institute of Biomedicine and Pharmacy for distribution through Việt Á, illegally gaining more than VNĐ2.1 billion ($86,260).

The trial is expected to take place over the course of three days. — VNS

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