Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Wednesday issued a warning to Minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan for his role in an investment scandal involving one of Vietnam’s leading mobile carriers.
The prime minister’s warning is in addition to a reprimand handed down by the Politburo, the most powerful arm of the Communist Party of Vietnam, as well as his removal from his post as Secretary of the Party Committee at the Ministry of Information and Communications for the 2016-2021 tenure.
According to the Politburo, Tuan must take responsibility for the violations and wrongdoings committed by the ministry’s Party Committee between 2011 and 2016 when he was serving as deputy minister.
He violated the principle of democratic centralism and working regulations, showing a lack of responsibility and lax leadership when tasked with directing a VND8,889 billion (US$392 million) deal offered by state-owned mobile carrier Mobifone to acquire a 95 percent stake in local pay TV operator AVG in late 2015.
Mobifone, the company at the center of the high-profile case, had the deal probed by the state inspectorate after authorities ruled it violated a series of government regulations.
Minister Tuan, then Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, authorized the deal by signing off on a series of related documents, several of which, according to the Politburo, were beyond his authority.
The Mobifone-AVG deal was proposed when the latter company was bogged down with debts valued at VND1,266 billion ($55.77 million) and accumulated losses of VND1,632 billion ($71.89 million).
AVG’s total assets were worth only VND206 billion ($9.07 million), or just over 2.3 percent of Mobifone’s offer, according to the state inspectorate.
The inspectorate’s finalized report concluded that Mobifone’s 95 percent acquisition of AVG was marred by the information ministry's negligence and led to losses of VND7 trillion ($308.37 million) from the state coffers.
As minister and secretary of the ministry’s Party Committee since April 2016, Tuan is also responsible for the violations and wrongdoings committed by the committee for the 2016-2021 tenure, the Politburo concluded.