JavaScript is off. Please enable to view full site.

Vietnam police arrest assistant to deputy PM over test kit scandal

Vietnam police arrest assistant to deputy PM over test kit scandal

Thursday, December 01, 2022, 13:43 GMT+7
Vietnam police arrest assistant to deputy PM over test kit scandal
COVID-19 test kit products produced by Viet A Technology Corporation, a pharmaceutical company based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Ministry of Science and Technology

Vietnamese police on Wednesday detained the assistant to a deputy prime minister for his alleged wrongdoings in a COVID-19 test kit scam that was uncovered late last year. 

Police issued arrest and prosecution orders for Nguyen Van Trinh for suspected “abuse of powers and positions while on duty,” the Ministry of Public Security’s investigation police agency reported the same day.

Trinh was appointed to the post in December 2018, having served as secretary to an unspecified deputy prime minister.

The arrest is the latest development in the expansion of a probe into serious violations of bidding regulations, offering and receiving bribes, and abuse of powers while on duty relating to a test kit scam involving Ho Chi Minh City-based Viet A Technology Corporation (Viet A Corp).

Trinh was found to have abused his position by asking officials at the Ministry of Health to help Viet A Corp's test kits obtain a registration number for market circulation, police said.     

Trinh’s request helped Viet A Corp sell test kits to various agencies and localities across Vietnam at much higher prices than their actual cost, causing losses to the state budget, investigators said.

The scam was uncovered late last year, when police detained Phan Quoc Viet, founder and CEO of Viet A Corp, and Pham Duy Tuyen, director of the Hai Duong Center for Disease Control (CDC), on December 19, 2021.  

Both have been prosecuted on charges of “violating regulations on bidding, causing serious consequences.” 

In April 2020, the Ministry of Health granted a circulation license for Viet A Corp's one-step RT-PCR test kits, the first-ever made in Vietnam, about three months after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Southeast Asian country. 

Viet A Corp then supplied test kits to CDCs and other medical facilities of 62 provinces and cities, raking in nearly VND4 trillion (US$162.3 million), according to preliminary investigation results.

Given the increasing demand for COVID-19 test kits amid a serious outbreak that hammered Vietnam in April last year, Viet colluded with the CDC directors of several localities to hike the prices of such kits in order to give them a kickback.

Viet admitted he had directed his staff to overstate the prices of production equipment and input materials in order to hike the selling price of a test kit to VND470,000 ($19.08), or 45 percent higher than its value, allowing the company to earn an additional VND500 billion ($20.3 million).

He confessed to investigators that he had given kickbacks, worth nearly VND800 billion ($32.45 million), to his partners who bought his test kits at inflated prices.

To date, more than 90 suspects have been arrested or put under criminal investigation for their involvement in the case, including eight senior officials from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and dozens of leaders and officials at CDCs and health departments in many provinces and cities.

Among those arrested are former health minister Nguyen Thanh Long and ex-science and technology minister Chu Ngoc Anh.

Like us on Facebook or  follow us on Twitter to get the latest news about Vietnam!

Vietnamese police on Wednesday detained the assistant to a deputy prime minister for his alleged wrongdoings in a COVID-19 test kit scam that was uncovered late last year. 

Police issued arrest and prosecution orders for Nguyen Van Trinh for suspected “abuse of powers and positions while on duty,” the Ministry of Public Security’s investigation police agency reported the same day.

Trinh was appointed to the post in December 2018, having served as secretary to an unspecified deputy prime minister.

The arrest is the latest development in the expansion of a probe into serious violations of bidding regulations, offering and receiving bribes, and abuse of powers while on duty relating to a test kit scam involving Ho Chi Minh City-based Viet A Technology Corporation (Viet A Corp).

Trinh was found to have abused his position by asking officials at the Ministry of Health to help Viet A Corp's test kits obtain a registration number for market circulation, police said.     

Trinh’s request helped Viet A Corp sell test kits to various agencies and localities across Vietnam at much higher prices than their actual cost, causing losses to the state budget, investigators said.

The scam was uncovered late last year, when police detained Phan Quoc Viet, founder and CEO of Viet A Corp, and Pham Duy Tuyen, director of the Hai Duong Center for Disease Control (CDC), on December 19, 2021.  

Both have been prosecuted on charges of “violating regulations on bidding, causing serious consequences.” 

In April 2020, the Ministry of Health granted a circulation license for Viet A Corp's one-step RT-PCR test kits, the first-ever made in Vietnam, about three months after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Southeast Asian country. 

Viet A Corp then supplied test kits to CDCs and other medical facilities of 62 provinces and cities, raking in nearly VND4 trillion (US$162.3 million), according to preliminary investigation results.

Given the increasing demand for COVID-19 test kits amid a serious outbreak that hammered Vietnam in April last year, Viet colluded with the CDC directors of several localities to hike the prices of such kits in order to give them a kickback.

Viet admitted he had directed his staff to overstate the prices of production equipment and input materials in order to hike the selling price of a test kit to VND470,000 ($19.08), or 45 percent higher than its value, allowing the company to earn an additional VND500 billion ($20.3 million).

He confessed to investigators that he had given kickbacks, worth nearly VND800 billion ($32.45 million), to his partners who bought his test kits at inflated prices.

To date, more than 90 suspects have been arrested or put under criminal investigation for their involvement in the case, including eight senior officials from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and dozens of leaders and officials at CDCs and health departments in many provinces and cities.

Among those arrested are former health minister Nguyen Thanh Long and ex-science and technology minister Chu Ngoc Anh.

Like us on Facebook or  follow us on Twitter to get the latest news about Vietnam!

Vinh Tho - Than Hoang / Tuoi Tre News

More

Read more

;

Photos

VIDEOS

‘Taste of Australia’ gala dinner held in Ho Chi Minh City after 2-year hiatus

Taste of Australia Gala Reception has returned to the Park Hyatt Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1 after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Vietnamese woman gives unconditional love to hundreds of adopted children

Despite her own immense hardship, she has taken in and cared for hundreds of orphans over the past three decades.

Vietnam’s Mekong Delta celebrates spring with ‘hat boi’ performances

The art form is so popular that it attracts people from all ages in the Mekong Delta

Vietnamese youngster travels back in time with clay miniatures

Each work is a scene caught by Dung and kept in his memories through his journeys across Vietnam

Latest news

Missing radioactive capsule found in Western Australia

Australian authorities on Wednesday found a radioactive capsule that was lost in the vast Outback after nearly a week-long search along a 1,400 km (870-mile) stretch of highway, an emergency services official said