HCMC – The Supreme People’s Procuracy of Vietnam has released its indictments against 54 suspects in the Covid-19 repatriation flight scandal, with former Deputy Foreign Minister To Anh Dung and 17 others likely to be sentenced to between 20 years in prison and death.
The country’s top prosecution charged the 54 individuals with bribe giving, bribe taking and brokering; abuse of power while on duty; or asset misappropriation fraud, which took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in Hanoi and some other provinces.
The indictments came around two weeks after the police at the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) wrapped up their investigations into the case that happened at the height of the Covid pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
The indictments indicate that To Anh Dung, Nguyen Quang Linh, who served as assistant to then Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh, and 16 others might be condemned to death if found guilty.
While licensing flights to take home Vietnamese nationals stranded abroad due to Covid and approving quarantine and isolation places, mostly hotels and resorts, in a number of provinces and cities in the period between September 2020 and December 2021, 25 officials at ministries, agencies and local governments took nearly VND165 billion (US$7 million) in bribes, and abused their powers while on duty, leaving losses of around VND10.5 billion.
There were 23 business representatives charged with giving about VND227 billion (US$9.66 million) in bribes, and four individual bribe brokers giving VND74.5 billion in bribes and misappropriating VND24.5 billion.
Nguyen Quang Linh alone got a total of VND4.2 billion in four instances. Meanwhile, To Anh Dung took a combined VND21.5 billion in 37 times.
Nguyen Thi Huong Lan, former head of the Foreign Ministry’s Consular Department, through which all repatriation flights were approved, took more than VND25 billion in bribes.
Pham Trung Kien, former secretary of Deputy Health Minister Do Xuan Tuyen, took a total of VND42.6 billion in bribes.