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Dinh La Thang, Trinh Xuan Thanh stand trial for irregularities at ethanol plant

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HCMC – The Hanoi People’s Court today, March 8, started a hearing against Dinh La Thang, former chairman of the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PVN), and Trinh Xuan Thanh, former chairman of PetroVietnam Construction Corporation (PVC), and 10 others for their alleged violations at an ethanol plant project in the northern province of Phu Tho, causing losses of over VND543 billion.

Thang was accused of violating regulations on construction causing serious consequences. Meanwhile, Thanh was charged with abusing his position and power while on duty, together with the same charge as Thang, the local media reported.

In response to a proposal from lawyers to summon former PVC general director Vu Duc Thuan, a representative of the judge said Thuan had been summoned but he was serving a prison term afar, so he could not attend the hearing.

Meanwhile, Thanh proposed the court allow his relatives and the press to attend the trial. In response, the judge’s representative said due to Covid-19, the judge could not summon a lot of people but Trinh Xuan Gioi, father of Thanh, had been summoned. However, Gioi authorized Trinh Hung Cuong, son of Thanh, to attend the trial.

Journalists also participated in the trial, but they followed the trial from another room.

According to the Supreme People’s Procuracy’s indictment, on July 17, 2007, PVN issued a resolution on the development of an ethanol plant in the northern region. Three months later, former PVN Chairman Thang signed a decision to approve the project.

PVB was established on December 27, 2007, to develop the ethanol plant in Phu Tho Province. PVB’s capital was contributed by PVN, Southeast Asia Commercial Bank and other shareholders.

Work on the plant started in September 2009. Since then, it has seen a surge in the required investment from the initial VND1.3 trillion to VND2.5 trillion.

Before the execution of the Phu Tho ethanol project, PVB had conducted the preliminary selection process for contractors, with the participation of six bidders, including a consortium of contractors from PVC, Sweden’s Alfa Laval and U.S.-based Delta-T Group. They all failed to meet the requirements.

Although PVB had plans to choose the contractor of the project through a tender, Thang still appointed the consortium to take charge of the TK05 package, which included the design, procurement and supply of materials and equipment and the construction of the ethanol plant.

Meanwhile, Thanh repeatedly proposed that PVN and PVB choose PVC as the contractor of the project.

During the execution of the project, due to the consortium’s inability, the project continuously lagged behind schedule. In March 2013, PVC suspended work on the project while no component of the plant was completed.

Moreover, in 2009, Thanh worked with Do Van Hong to establish the Kinh Bac Petroleum Construction and Investment JSC (PVC Kinh Bac). In August 2009, when PVC signed a contract with PVC Kinh Bac on the building of some items of the Dinh Vu Polyester Fiber Plant in Haiphong, Thanh discussed with Hong about buying a 3,400-square-meter land lot in Vinh Phuc Province’s Tam Dao Town to develop a resort.

After that, Thanh abused his position as PVC chairman to ask his subordinates to offer PVC Kinh Bac VND25 billion in advance to buy the land.

Thanh later asked Hong to transfer the land to him at VND23.8 billion. However, he paid only VND20.8 billion and let his father, Trinh Xuan Gioi, own the land. Gioi later transferred the land to Thanh’s wife.

In June 2016, Thanh’s wife sold the land lot to another company for VND45 billion.

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