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Police arrest former MobiFone chairman and ministry official
By Van Ly
Tuesday,  Jul 10, 2018,23:38 (GMT+7)

Police arrest former MobiFone chairman and ministry official

By Van Ly

Le Nam Tra, former chairman of State-owned mobile carrier MobiFone – PHOTO: VOV.VN

HANOI – Investigative police at the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) on July 10 arrested a former chairman of mobile carrier MobiFone and an official of the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) on alleged charges of economic mismanagement which caused serious consequences, the MPS announced in a statement posted on its website on the same day.

The statement said that based on investigation results and evidence gathered so far, the Investigative Police Department (C46) at the MPS decided on July 10 to press charges against a state investment capital mismanagement case at MobiFone, the MIC and other relevant agencies based on Article 220 of the 2015 Penal Code.

Le Nam Tra, former chairman of MobiFone Telecommunications Corp., a business under the MIC, and Pham Dinh Trong, head of the ministry’s enterprise management department, are facing charges of “violating regulations on state capital management and usage, thus causing serious consequences.”

Their arrests came after MobiFone was alleged to have overpaid for a 95% stake in the loss-making private pay TV firm An Vien Group (AVG), which caused losses for the State.

MobiFone, which is among Vietnam’s big three mobile carriers, spent VND8,889.8 billion (about US$390 million) buying 344.66 million shares from AVG in late 2015.

The Government Inspectorate earlier concluded after a probe into the deal that AVG was making losses when MobiFone struck the stake acquisition contract.

Moreover, according to the conclusion of the inspectorate, irregularities and irresponsibility of MobiFone might have caused losses of some VND7 trillion for the State, including AVG’s liabilities of VND1.13 trillion.

The acquisition of AVG had directly affected MobiFone and led it to perform poorly since 2016 with 2016 profit falling by VND321.7 billion against the previous year; accumulated losses amounting to over VND1.98 trillion as of late last year. The plan for MobiFone to go public had also been affected.

In addition, the MIC was irresponsible while assessing and approving the deal. Its Decision 236/2015 that endorsed the deal did not have sufficient legal grounds, causing serious consequences for the State budget.

Under such pressure, MobiFone and AVG decided to call off the controversial deal on March 12, with the latter making full refunds. As of this May, AVG’s shareholders returned more than VND8.5 trillion to MobiFone to take back the 95% stake.

The MPS statement on July 10 said investigators are still garnering more evidence of the violations committed by the 57-year-old Tra and the 48-year-old Trong and that there will be further probe into the case.

Tra is allegedly accountable for having submitted a decision to the MIC seeking approval for the stake acquisition, and having signed many relevant documents in violation of prevailing regulations. Meanwhile, Trong allegedly committed a slew of serious violations in the process of advising the MIC’s leaders on the deal.

By the time of his arrest, Le Nam Tra was serving as an official at the MIC office.

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