Thursday, 17 Oct 2019
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Former ministers admit to taking hefty bribes in pay TV acquisition case

Updated at Wednesday, 04 Sep 2019, 00:48
The Hanoitimes - Two former ministers and executives of MobiFone took millions of dollar in bribes from AVG`s former chairman.
Nguyen Bac Son and Truong Minh Tuan, former minister of Information and Communications, have admitted that they took bribes worth millions of dollars to facilitate the acquisition of Audio Visual Global (AVG) by state-owned MobiFone Telecommunications Corporation in 2016. 
 
Truong Minh Tuan and Nguyen Bac Son, former minister of Information and Communications. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Truong Minh Tuan (L) and Nguyen Bac Son (R), former ministers of Information and Communications. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Former minister Nguyen Bac Son took US$3 million bribes from AVG’s former Chairman Pham Nhat Vu, who also bribed former minister Truong Minh Tuan US$200,000, local media reported. 

Besides the two former ministers, Vu bribed other executives of MobiFone namely former chairman Le Nam Tra and former general director Cao Duy Hai with hundreds of thousands of dollars each. 

Notorious case

MobiFone, under the management of the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), broke law on buying a 95% stake of AVG as it made the acquisition decision without thorough investment plans or diligence of AVG’s situation. 

MobiFone overpaid AVG at a price of VND8.9 trillion (US$386 million) and caused a loss worth more than VND6.5 trillion (US$282 million) to the state, the Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.  

The deal has left serious impacts on MobiFone’s operations and slowed its equitization process. The corporation suffered an accumulative loss worth VND1.9 trillion (US$82 million), according to Tuoi Tre Online. 

 
AVG's former chairman Pham Nhat Vu
AVG's former chairman Pham Nhat Vu

The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), meanwhile, which was irresponsible for verifying the case, approved the deal without fundamental legal basis. 

The Government Inspectorate concluded that the MIC violated the Law on Investment and the government’s rules by approving the deal without the prime minister’s endorsement.

Former minister Son was the one who staged the acquisition, ignoring regulations on the role and responsibility of the MIC and decided himself the price appraisal and buying price, local media cited the investigation findings. 

Son asked Tuan, who was then a former deputy minister, to sign the acquisition decision and asked MobiFone’s former chairman Tra and general director Hai to speed up the deal. 

For their violations, Son and Tuan infringed upon regulations on state management of public capital, causing serious damage while Tra and Hai bore the same charges. 

Police also proposed charges of bribery taking for the two former ministers and bribery giving to AVG former chairman Vu.

Son, Tuan, Tra, Hai, and Vu were arrested in 2018 and 2019. 
Linh Pham
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