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Dec 16, 2019 / 16:15

Court on MobiFone-AVG case opens, former ministers may face death sentences

Two ministers Nguyen Bac Son and Truong Minh Tuan are charged with "taking bribes" with a maximum penalty of death sentence.

A court on the illegal acquisition of private pay TV firm Audio Visual Global JSC (AVG) by state-owned telecom giant MobiFone in 2016 opened today [December 16] in Hanoi, and two involving former ministers might face death sentences.

 Nguyen Bac Son, former minister of Information and Communications, at the court on Dec 16. Photo: VNA

Nguyen Bac Son and Truong Minh Tuan, two former ministers of Information and Communications are accused of “accepting bribe” under Article 354 in the 2015 Penal Code which hands down the maximum penalty of a death sentence to such offense, the Tuoi Tre newspaper reported Monday.

Former Chairman of the Boards of Directors Le Nam Tra and former General Director of MobiFone Cao Duy Hai are accused of the same charge.

The case, according to the Government Inspectorate, happened in 2016 when the defendants violated public investment laws and caused an estimated loss of more than VND6.5 trillion (US$282 million) to the state when MobiFone, under the management of the Information and Communications, bought a 95% stake of AVG.

Under the indictment, Nguyen Bac Son, 66, received US$3 million from Chairman of AVG Chairman Pham Nhat Vu.

 Former minister of Information and CommunicationsTruong Minh Tuan. Photo: VNA

Truong Minh Tuan, 59, who served as the information minister from April 2016 to July 2018 and as Son’s deputy before the period of time, signed a decision to approve the acquisition without the then Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s approval. Tuan received US$200,000 from Vu for directly signing the decision taken by the information ministry to approve of the acquisition.

Former Chairman of MobiFone Le Nam Tra took US$2.5 million and former General Director Cao Duy Hai received US$500,000 from Vu.

Pham Nhat Vu, former chairman of AVG, might face the maximum jail term of 20 years under Article 364 in the 2015 Penal Code for “giving bribe”.

Nine other defendants are charged with “violating regulations on managing and using public capital that causes serious consequences” with the maximum penalty of 20 years behind bars.

Son and Tuan were expelled from the Communist Party of Vietnam, the highest mode of punishment for misconduct caused by party members. The other three modes are reprimand, warning and demotion.
The trial, which will last until December 21, is among major cases in the corruption crackdown spearheaded by the Party’s General Secretary and State President Nguyen Phu Trong.