Vietnam Jails Oil Executive For Life, Gives Former Top Party Official 13 years

Trinh Xuan Thanh, the former head of PetroVietnam Construction (PVC), is believed to have been abducted from Germany.

Vietnamese former state oil executive Trinh Xuan Thanh (front R) listens to the verdict in his trial at Hanoi's People's Court, Jan. 22, 2018.

Vietnam put a former state oil executive who was allegedly kidnapped from Germany in jail for life on Monday and gave a recently dismissed senior Communist Party official 13 years for corruption and economic mismanagement related to millions of dollars of losses to the energy and banking sectors.

The highest-profile corruption trial to target communist Vietnam’s political elite saw Trinh Xuan Thanh, the former head of PetroVietnam Construction (PVC), sentenced to 14 years for mismanagement and life in prison for embezzlement, according to the state-run VNExpress news site.

Former politburo member Dinh La Thang, who once chaired the board of PetroVietnam, was sentenced to 13 years in prison, while other officials and executives got sentences as high as 22 years in jail.

Thanh faces a separate trial for embezzlement Wednesday on charges that could carry the death penalty.

Germany has accused Vietnam of kidnapping Thanh from a Berlin park and taking him home by force to face charges.

Thang, is a former chairman of PetroVietnam and the most senior politician to face trial in decades in Vietnam, which has launched a crackdown on corruption in recent months that has netted dozens of former officials and bankers.

Thanh has denied accusations that he was responsible for cash bribes to officials, while Thang has said that a decision by former Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and the Politburo led to PetroVietnam’s losses.

In total a group of 22 people were put on trial for charges of deliberate mismanagement, embezzlement, or both, as part of the crackdown, which has widened since general secretary of the Communist Party Nguyen Phu Trong won a power struggle with Nguyen Tan Dung last year.

Trong, who chaired the 13th session of the Communist Party’s Central Steering Committee on Anti-Corruption on Monday, was quoted by state media as saying that in 2017, the Vietnamese government has disciplined more than 300 organizations and more than 18,600 individual party members, including more than 700 who were involved in corruption and intentional misconduct cases.

Trong warned the party that “hostile forces” were abusing the anti-corruption drive to sew disunity, defame, and undermine the party and the State of Vietnam.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Emily Peyman. Written in English by Paul Eckert