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Vietnam Today

Prosecutors seek life sentence for fugitive oil executive

Released at: 18:17, 11/01/2018

Prosecutors seek life sentence for fugitive oil executive

Former PVC Chairman Trinh Xuan Thanh(r). Photo: VNA

Original call for death penalty now life imprisonment.

by Quang Huy

Vietnam’s top prosecution body has called for a notorious fugitive oil executive to be sentenced to life in prison and a former Politburo member, Ho Chi Minh City Party Chief, and PetroVietnam Chairman to receive 14-15 years in prison for their involvement in a massive corruption scandal at the oil giant.

The Supreme People’s Procuracy has accused Dinh La Thang, former Chairman of the State-owned PetroVietnam, of “deliberately acting against State regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences”, and the runaway Trinh Xuan Thanh of the same charge plus embezzling property.

The two are standing trial with 20 other former PetroVietnam execs accused of being responsible for million-dollar losses at power projects run by the PetroVietnam Construction Corporation (PVC), PetroVietnam’s construction arm.

According to prosecutors, Thang abused his power as the group’s leader and oversaw financial mismanagement.

The indictment said he directly appointed Thanh as PVC’s CEO in December 2007, before making various promotion, funding and recruitment decisions to boost Thanh’s power and facilitate the company’s operations.

He is accused of being responsible for Thanh’s actions that led to losses of more than VND119 billion ($5.24 million) at a thermal power plant and the embezzlement of VND4 billion ($176,000) at another.

Thang, 57, served as Chairman of PetroVietnam from 2006 to 2011 before his political career took off as Minister of Transport in Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s cabinet and then as Party Secretary of Ho Chi Minh City.

He was arrested on December 8 after being voted out of the then 19-member Politburo, the Party’s decision-making body, and was fired as Party Chief of Ho Chi Minh City in May.

Fifty-two-year-old Thanh was detained last August, after which he fled to Europe and then turned himself in.

Before the trial, prosecutors said that Thang could face 20 years in jail - the heaviest sentence possible for such crimes - and that Thanh could be sentenced to death.

Vietnam’s revised Penal Code, effective from this month, allows those convicted of embezzlement to avoid the death sentence by returning at least 75 per cent of their ill-gotten gains. Thanh’s mother handed over VND2 billion ($87,800) to authorities the week before the trial, in what lawyers have interpreted as an effort to save him from death.

At another high-profile trial that wrapped up after a month last September, the Hanoi court sentenced Nguyen Xuan Son, another former Board Chairman of PetroVietnam, to death, and Ha Van Tham, his counterpart at OceanBank, to life in jail for embezzlement and mismanagement that caused losses of nearly VND1.6 trillion ($70.4 million) at the bank, in which PetroVietnam held a 20 per cent stake.

Son is also among the former oil executives standing trial with Thanh and Thang. Thang is set to stand trial again later this month for his role in the OceanBank case, for which he is also facing up to 20 years in prison.

Thanh is also set to stand another trial for embezzlement at PVPLand, a subsidiary of PVC, for which he is facing the death sentence.

The PetroVietnam trial opened on January 8 and is expected to last two weeks, taking place at the same time as a separate trial in Ho Chi Minh City where a $400 million fraud case involving the Vietnam Construction Bank (VNCB) and Sacombank is being heard.

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