Sunday , August 14 2022

Three senior officials linked to test kit scandal arrested

From left: Former Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long, former Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Phạm Công Tạc, former Chairman of Hà Nội’s People’s Committee Chu Ngọc Anh. VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — The Police Investigation Agency of the Ministry of Public Security late on Tuesday issued warrants to arrest, search and proceed with their investigations into the alleged wrongdoings of former Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long, former chairman of Hà Nội’s People’s Committee Chu Ngọc Anh, and former Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Phạm Công Tạc.

Long was charged with “abusing positions and powers while performing official duties”, while Anh and Tạc were charged with “violation of regulations on management and use of State assets, causing loss and waste”.

According to the agency, Long had committed acts of abusing his position and power, violating the provisions of the law in the issuance of circulation registration numbers, price negotiation and price check of COVID-19 test kits, causing particularly serious damage to the State’s assets as promulgated in Clause 3, Article 356 of the Penal Code.

Anh had committed acts of violating the provisions of the law in the assignment, management and use of the national science and technology project to research and manufacture COVID-19 test kits, causing loss and waste to the State’s assets as promulgated in Clause 3, Article 219 of the Penal Code.

Tạc had committed acts of violating the provisions of the law in the management and use of the same project.

The project was chaired by the Military Medical Academy, with the participation of four members of Việt Á Company, including general director Phan Quốc Việt, who was arrested and being investigated.

It was a national-level project, carried out from February 2020 with a total budget of nearly VNĐ19 billion (US$816,463).

In March 2020, an advisory council (under the Ministry of Science and Technology) evaluated and accepted the results of the project’s phase 1, and proposed that the Ministry of Health license the use of two COVID-19 test kits.

Based on the proposal and some other evidence, the Ministry of Health granted a temporary licence, and then a circulation permit for the kits.

The website of the Ministry of Science and Technology once published information about the World Health Organization’s recognition of test kits manufactured by Việt Á company. However, after the Ministry of Public Security began investigating the case, this information was removed because it “contained errors”. VNS

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