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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Former deputy foreign minister starts standing trial tomorrow

The Saigon Times

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HCMC – To Anh Dung, former deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, and 53 other defendants will stand trial tomorrow, July 11, for allegedly receiving bribes in the process of operating repatriation flights during the Covid pandemic.

The trial is expected to last one month at the Hanoi City People’s Court, with Judge Vu Quang Huy serving as chief judge.

To Anh Dung and Nguyen Quang Linh, assistant to the Permanent Deputy Prime Minister, are facing charges of taking bribes, with the maximum penalty being capital punishment.

The remaining 52 defendants, including 19 former officials, have been accused of various charges, including bribery, accepting bribes, embezzlement, and abuse of power and authority while performing official duties.

To Anh Dung and his family have already returned an amount of VND16.2 billion to compensate for the consequences.

According to the indictment, the Government allowed relevant departments to conduct flights in April 2020 to rescue citizens who were stranded abroad during the height of the pandemic. Individuals were only required to pay for their airfare and were not charged for quarantine expenses.

The authorities organized over 1,000 flights to repatriate over 200,000 citizens from 62 countries and territories back to Vietnam. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs alone sought approval from the Government to arrange 772 flights, including 400 rescue flights and 372 other flights which also included airfares and hotel costs during quarantine.

From September 2020 to December 2022, a total of 25 officials from various ministries, departments, and localities accepted bribes amounting to nearly VND165 billion in the process of granting flight permits. They also abused their powers while performing official duties, causing damages of nearly VND10.5 billion to the State.

Twenty-three individuals from various businesses were found to give bribes totaling nearly VND227 billion.

Notably, To Anh Dung received bribes of VND21.5 billion, while Nguyen Quang Linh took bribes worth VND4.5 billion.

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