Wednesday , December 7 2022

Government int’l relations official arrested in pandemic flight bribery scandal


A top international relations official at the Government Office has been arrested for allegedly receiving bribes in the organization of Covid-19 repatriation flights.

Nguyen Thanh Hai, 51 head of the International Relations Department under the Government Office, was detained to be investigated for “taking bribes,” Lieutenant General To An Xo, spokesman for the Ministry of Public Security, said Tuesday.

Hai is the 18th person to be put under criminal probe in the eight months that followed an investigation into a bribery scandal in the organization of repatriation flights that brought Vietnamese citizens back to the country during the Covid-19 pandemic. Several officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including former deputy minister To Anh Dung, were among those arrested.

At the Ministry of Public Security, former deputy head of the immigration department Tran Van Du and his two subordinates have also been arrested for taking bribes.

Nguyen Thanh Hai, head of the International Relations department under the Government Office. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Public Security

Nguyen Thanh Hai, head of the International Relations department under the Government Office. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Public Security

Vietnam had operated around 2,000 repatriation flights to bring home residents stranded overseas due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But many people had to buy very expensive tickets and complete complicated procedures to get a seat on the repatriation flights.

Investigations found many officials and business leaders had taken advantage of the repatriation policy to make money illegally.

Each repatriation flight organized during the Covid-19 pandemic earned profits of several billion Vietnamese dong (VND1 billion = $42,750) after deducting costs, according to the public security ministry.

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