Wednesday , July 24 2024

Former general director of Việt Á Company admits paying former minister off


Phan Quốc Việt, former general director of Việt Á Company, at court. — VNA/VNS Photo Phạm Kiên

HÀ NỘI — Former general director of Việt Á Company Phan Quốc Việt admitted paying Nguyễn Thanh Long, former minister of health to win contracts with Centres for Disease Control (CDCs), but insisted he only paid him directly on one occasion. 

Việt told Hà Nội’s People Court on Friday that on other occasions, Nguyễn Huỳnh, former deputy director of the Price Management Department of the Drug Administration (under the Ministry of Health), acted as a middleman.

“Long told me to discuss business with Huỳnh because he wanted to keep a low profile,” Việt told the court.

“He feared that attracting too much attention would lead to trouble, especially when he was having a conflict with another senior in the ministry.”

Việt claimed that Việt Á’s participation in the research team in charge of developing COVID-19 testing kits was a request from Trịnh Thanh Hùng, former head of the Department of Science and Technology for Economic-Technical Sectors (under the Ministry of Science and Technology).

He said Hùng made the request out of his concerns over the pandemic situation at the time and not for their mutual gain.

Việt admitted paying US$50,000 to Phạm Công Tạc, former deputy minister of science and technology, to curry favour from him, but Tạc denied he received so much, instead insisting he was paid just VNĐ100 million ($4,100) from Việt.

Việt also admitted that his claims for patent ownership of the testing kits were against the law because they were the State’s property.

Chu Ngọc Anh, former minister of science and technology, admitted taking a small gift from Phan Quốc Việt but claimed to be unaware of the $200,000 in it.

Upon discovering the money, he put it in a suitcase, brought the suitcase home, and intended to return it to Việt after a business trip but he was arrested before he could do so.

“After I was arrested, I told my family members to hand the suitcase over to the police but they told me it was lost,” said Anh.

He also admitted giving Việt Á the go-ahead to get a licence to commercialise the testing kits, even though he knew the kits were owned by the State. After the company was licensed, he instructed Phạm Công Tạc to organise press conferences to praise Việt Á for its efforts during the pandemic.  

Anh’s family members have returned VNĐ4.6 billion ($189,000) to the police in a bid to correct his wrongdoings.

Phạm Duy Tuyến, former director of Hải Dương CDC, told the court that he didn’t take money directly from Việt Á but used the bank account of his friend, Cường, to receive VNĐ22 billion ($903,000) from the company.

He also asked another friend to receive Việt Á’s money on his behalf claiming she was a better person to do so because she was a gold and foreign currency trader and could help him change the money into dollars for convenience and cover-up.

“I transferred VNĐ7 billion ($287,000) of the money to a friend in HCM City, who used the money to buy real estate on my behalf,” said Tuyến.

Tuyến pleaded guilty to the charges of taking bribes on Friday.

The trial, which is due to end later this month, continues. — VNS

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