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Former Vietnamese Politburo member Dinh La Thang faces more charges

Monday, January 21, 2019, 12:34 GMT+7
Former Vietnamese Politburo member Dinh La Thang faces more charges
Dinh La Thang, former chairman of Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PVN), stands trial at a Hanoi court in April 2018. Photo: Giang Long / Tuoi Tre

Police on Sunday launched a criminal investigation against Dinh La Thang, a former member of the Vietnamese Party’s Politburo and former chairman at state-run Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PVN), for suspected violations at a PVN bio-fuel subsidiary.

Thang, 59, is being investigated for “violating regulations on investment in construction, causing serious consequences.”

He is already serving two jail terms totaling 31 years on charges of acting against state regulations in separate cases linked to wrongdoing at PVN.

The same day, a criminal investigation was also launched against Tran Thi Binh, 61, former deputy general director of PVN, on the same charge. She is currently under house arrest.

Sunday’s moves were the latest development in an ongoing police probe into an ethanol plant in the northern province of Phu Tho developed by Petrochemical and Bio-Fuel JSC (PVB), a subsidiary of PVN.

Construction of the plant, known for short as Ethanol Phu Tho, began in June 2009 over a fifty-hectare plot of land in Phu Tho.

The plant’s investment was initially set at VND1.7 trillion (US$73.1 million), but was later raised to VND2.4 trillion ($103.2 million).

PVB did not require experience or capability in selecting and appointing the contractor for Ethanol Phu Tho, investigators found.

As of April 2018, PVB had poured into the project VND772 billion ($33.2 million) funded by bank loans.

Investment into the ethanol plant had resulted in losses amounting to over VND600 billion ($25.8 million), police said.

Droves of current and former officials at PVB have been arrested as police launch criminal investigations into wrongdoings related to the Ethanol Phu Tho investment.

An ethanol plant developed by Petrochemical and Bio-Fuel JSC (PVB) in Phu Tho Province in northern Vietnam. Photo: Ha Duy / Tuoi Tre
An ethanol plant developed by Petrochemical and Bio-Fuel JSC (PVB) in Phu Tho Province in northern Vietnam. Photo: Ha Duy / Tuoi Tre

In April 2018, a Hanoi court handed Dinh La Thang an 18-year imprisonment sentence for acting against state regulations on economic management in PVN’s loss of VND800 billion ($35.2 million) worth of investment into local lender OceanBank.

Earlier, in January 2018, Thang was sentenced to 13 years in prison for his involvement in financial misconduct at PVN that resulted in separate losses of VND119 billion ($5.24 million).

Thang was previously a member of the Politburo, the all-powerful body of the Communist Party of Vietnam, from January 27, 2016 to May 7, 2017.

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