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Ex-chief of loss-making Vietnamese firm suspended, 3 weeks after disappearing

Friday, November 25, 2016, 17:32 GMT+7

A Ministry of Industry and Trade staffer, who has ‘gone missing’ for three weeks after embarking on an overseas medical trip, has been suspended from his post at a state-run chemical giant, and it remains a mystery when he will return.

Vu Dinh Duy, former general director of a loss-making yarn mill in northern Vietnam, has been nowhere to be seen since October 22, when he asked for sick leave and reportedly left the country.

Duy led PVTex, the operator of a US$325 million Dinh Vu yarn making plant in Hai Phong City between 2009 and 2014. Under his leadership, the plant failed to turn a profit once and instead incurred massive losses.

The 41-year-old was then appointed to several different posts before eventually being enlisted as a board member of Vinachem, the country’s chemical production giant under the management of the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The trade ministry on Tuesday decided to temporarily suspend Duy from his Vinachem post for violating the regulations on traveling overseas. A panel has also been formed to consult the Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh, as to how Duy should be sanctioned when, and if he returns to Vietnam.

The ministry also confirmed on Tuesday that information from the immigration department shows that Duy left Vietnam on October 22, but refused to disclose his destination country.

Duy’s sudden disappearance has prompted suspicions that he has fled the country to avoid allegations of wrongdoing. It has taken three weeks since his disappearance for the ministry to take action against him.

A tougher penalty decision now awaits Duy on his return, but it remains to be seen if he will really come back.

Loss-making plant

The $325 million Dinh Vu plant (PVTex) in Hai Phong City has been forced to temporarily close three times since beginning operations in May 2014.

By the end of 2014, PVTex had incurred VND1.08 trillion ($48.21 million) in losses. Deficits increased to VND1.73 trillion ($77.23 million) as of March 31, 2015 by when the plant had only managed to sell 23,000 out of the 32,000 metric tons of yarn it had produced.

Following the poor leadership between 2009 and 2014 that put the plant on verge of bankruptcy, Vu Dinh Duy was demoted to deputy general director, and later transferred to the Hai Phong Department of Industry and Trade, where he was appointed deputy director.

Duy was later appointed deputy head of the agency in charge of industrial and environmental safety under the Ministry of Industry and Trade by then-minister Vu Huy Hoang. After spending a short time at the agency, the 41-year-old was again transferred, this time to Vinachem.

Former trade minister Hoang, who ended his term in April this year, has himself been dismissed from a Party post for multiple wrongful promotions involving his own son and the now internationally wanted Trinh Xuan Thanh.  Duy is now being considered another of Hoang’s suspicious promotions.

The absence of Duy is being closely watched in Vietnam for the similarities it holds to Thanh’s case, where the former senior official asked to travel overseas for health treatment before disappearing, leading to an ongoing international manhunt.

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