HANOI: Two former communications ministers were arrested in Vietnam Saturday for mismanaging public funds over their alleged roles overseeing the purchase of a loss-making TV firm that would have cost the state millions of dollars.
Truong Minh Tuan and Nguyen Bac Son are under investigation for “violation of regulations on the management and use of public capital causing serious consequences,” the Ministry of Public Security said.
Their arrests come amid an unprecedented anti-corruption drive that echoes China’s crackdown on graft.
Dozens of bankers, businessmen and officials have been jailed in Vietnam since 2016 when the campaign took root. Some observers say the drive is politically motivated.
Tuan and Son are accused of illegally approving the purchase of private television company Audio Visual Global (AVG) in 2015 by the state-run telecommunication firm Mobifone.
AVG and Mobifone did not go through with the purchase in the end but officials said it would have caused US$300 million worth of losses in state funds.
Son, who was minister from 2011 to 2016, was accused of signing off on the deal with support from Tuan — his deputy at the time who took over as minister until he was fired in July last year.
The former director general of Mobifone Cao Duy Hai and deputy director general Pham Thi Phuong Anh were both arrested in November and remain under investigation in connection to the AVG case.
Vietnam is one of Asia’s fastest growing economies, but has long been plagued by endemic corruption.
The country’s communist Party chief and President Nguyen Phu Trong has vowed to stamp out graft among party ranks, and several high-profile officials have been jailed under his watch.
Transparency International ranks Vietnam 117 out of 180 countries on its corruption index, behind Thailand and the Philippines.
The communist country will host a summit next week between US president Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un aimed at dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear program.