Saturday , January 28 2023

Former Vietnam ambassador in Malaysia arrested over Covid flight scandal

Former Vietnamese ambassador in Malaysia Tran Viet Thai has been detained to be investigated for power abuse in a Covid-19 repatriation flight bribery case.

Thai, 49, was assigned to become the ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Vietnam in Malaysia in 2020. At the end of 2022, he was dismissed from all Party positions for the 2020-2025 term.

Nguyen Hoang Linh, 37, former employee of the Vietnam Embassy in Malaysia, is also being investigated for power abuse in the case, police announced Thursday. Linh has been put under house arrest.

Thai and Linh are the latest suspects caught in an ongoing investigation into the Covid-19 flight repatriation bribery scandal, which have resulted in the arrest of 41 officials and businesspeople over the past year, including high-ranking officials like former deputy foreign minister To Anh Dung, for either accepting bribes, giving bribes, committing fraud or abuse of power.

Most recently in late December, Tran Van Tan, vice chairman of the central province of Quang Nam, was arrested for accepting bribes.

The Ministry of Public Security said in June that each repatriation flight earned profits of several billion Vietnamese dong (VND1 billion = $42,580) after deducting costs.

Vietnam had operated around 400 repatriation flights to bring home residents stranded overseas during the global Covid outbreaks.

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