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Provincial head of Vietnam’s Petrolimex subsidiary arrested following fuel smuggling allegations

Friday, April 16, 2021, 14:04 GMT+7
Provincial head of Vietnam’s Petrolimex subsidiary arrested following fuel smuggling allegations
Police escort Luong Dinh Tien from the headquarters of Petrolimex Long An in Long An Province, April 15, 2021. Photo: Son Lam / Tuoi Tre

Vietnamese authorities have detained the director of Petrolimex Long An, the Long An Province subsidiary of Vietnam’s top gasoline firm Petrolimex, on charges of fuel smuggling.

On Thursday police in Dong Nai Province, in cooperation with relevant agencies from Long An Province, searched the headquarters of Petrolimex Long An on Tra Quy Binh Street in Tan An City.

The search lasted from 10:30 am to 1:15 pm when Luong Dinh Tien, general director of Petrolimex Long An, was escorted from the building by police.

Tien served as the deputy general director at Petrolimex Long An before his promotion to general director on October 1, 2020. 

His arrest was part of an ongoing investigation into a fuel smuggling ring led by Phan Thanh Huu, 64, from Ho Chi Minh City.

So far, police of Dong Nai Province have prosecuted 41 individuals and seized 10 boats, six tank trucks, 2.7 million liters of fuel, VND120 billion ($5.2 million) in cash, and a variety of other assets held by the ring.

Police vehicles are seen in front of the headquarters of Petrolimex Long An in Long An Province during the arrest of Luong Dinh Tien, April 15, 2021. Photo: Son Lam / Tuoi Tre

Police vehicles are seen in front of the headquarters of Petrolimex Long An in Long An Province during the arrest of Luong Dinh Tien, April 15, 2021. Photo: Son Lam / Tuoi Tre

On the evening of February 6, 500 officers from Dong Nai Province and central-level criminal police raided warehouses, gas stations, offices, and apartments throughout Dong Nai, Long An, Vinh Long and Ba Ria – Vung Tau Provinces, as well as Can Tho and Ho Chi Minh Cities, which authorities say belonged to individuals involved in the smuggling racket.

At the same time, police also caught a group of fuel smugglers transporting approximately one million liters of gas along the Hau River in Binh Minh District, Vinh Long Province.

The apprehended members admitted they had distributed about 200 million liters of low-quality fuel throughout Vietnam.

Responding to the arrest, Petrolimex stated on its website that Tien’s wrongdoing was a personal business and had no relation to his position, duties, or legal liabilities to the firm.

“All fuels distributed by Petrolimex Long An are sourced from Petrolimex Vietnam," the statement said.

"Subsidiaries are not allowed to procure fuels from other sources."

Petrolimex also claimed that their Long An subsidiary had not leased any of its warehouses or assets to the fuel smuggling racket.

“Petrolimex Vietnam is working closely with functional agencies [to investigate the case],” the firm stated.

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