Probe proposes bribery charges for 54 tied to Vietnam repatriation scheme

Firms allegedly paid to get on a list of rescue flight providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
By RFA Vietnamese
Probe proposes bribery charges for 54 tied to Vietnam repatriation scheme A Vietnamese woman carries a stuffed animal while boarding a repatriation flight from Singapore to Vietnam at Changi airport, Singapore, Aug 7, 2020.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security has recommended prosecuting 54 mostly senior officials, including the former vice minister of foreign affairs, over a pay-to-play scheme connected to the repatriation of Vietnamese nationals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ministry’s Investigation Security Agency said Tuesday that it had completed its probe of the scheme and submitted its findings to the Supreme People’s Court, calling for the 54 people to be charged with giving bribes, receiving bribes, brokering bribes, abusing one’s position as a public servant and appropriating assets by fraud, according to state media.

The proposed charges stem from a case against former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs To Anh Dung for having allegedly received 21.5 billion dong (U.S.$915,000) in bribes to add companies to a list of providers of repatriation flights. 

State media said Dung was in charge of approving the plans to organize repatriation flights based on proposals by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Consular Department.

In addition to Dung, the agency proposed charges of receiving bribes for Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Vu Hong Nam, Assistant to the Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Quang Linh, Head of the Government Office’s Department of International Relations Nguyen Thanh Hai, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Consular Department Nguyen Thi Huong Lan, and Vice Chairman of the Hanoi City People’s Committee Chu Xuan Dung, as well as 16 others.

Other defendants are from the ministries of public health, transport, and public security; the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam; the People’s Committees of Hanoi and Quang Nam province and the Hanoi Municipal People's Committee.  

A pilot in protective gear holds up Vietnamese flags at the Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, Vietnam, on July 29, 2020. More than 100 Vietnamese COVID-19 patients who had been working in Equatorial Guinea were brought home on a repatriation flight for treatment. Credit: VNA via AP

The agency recommended charges of brokering bribery for Major General Nguyen Anh Tuan – the deputy director general of the Hanoi police force – and three others.

During the investigation, Tuan confessed that he had received 61.6 billion dong (U.S.$2.65 million) to help Nguyen Thi Thanh Hang and Le Hong Son – the director general and deputy director general of the Blue Sky Co. – avoid criminal prosecution for their role in the repatriation scandal. On March 31, the Ministry of Public Security removed Tuan from office and ordered him to retire. 

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Nam was said to have received 1.8 billion dong (U.S.$76,600) during his posting as Vietnamese ambassador to Japan to help the Nhat Minh Company to sell air tickets and accommodations at hotels as quarantine places for passengers of six flights to repatriate Vietnamese nationals from Japan. 

Nguyen Quang Linh, the assistant to Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh, was accused of receiving 4.2 billion dong or U.S.$179,000 to help some companies obtain permits to organize “rescue flights.” 

Linh was accused of violating Vietnam’s laws and working rules and regulations in advising the government on selecting enterprises participating in the organization of flights to repatriate Vietnamese nationals during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

From April 2020 to January 2022, Vietnam organized around 400 rescue flights, bringing back over 70,000 citizens from more than 60 countries and territories. Many passengers had to buy overcharged tickets and undergo troublesome procedures to get a flight home.

Translated by Anna Vu. Edited by Joshua Lipes and Malcolm Foster.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.