Making news

MobiFone-AVG deal goes to court

The Hanoi People’s Court on December 16 opened the first instance trial of the case of telecom giant MobiFone’s purchase of 95 percent of Audio Visual Global JSC (AVG).

Among the 14 defendants to be tried, 13 have been charged with “violating regulations on public investment management, causing serious consequences” under Clause 3, Article 220 of the 2015 Criminal Code.

They include former ministers of information and communication Nguyen Bac Son and Truong Minh Tuan, and former head of the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC)’s Enterprise Management Department Phan Dinh Trong.

Vo Van Manh and Hoang Duy Quang from AMAX investment consultancy and valuation company are also on the stand.

Le Nam Tra, former Chairman of the Board at MobiFone, and board member Phan Thi Hoa Mai, along with five Deputy General Directors of the corporation – Pham Thi Phuong Anh, Ho Tuan, Nguyen Dang Nguyen, Nguyen Bao Long and Nguyen Manh Hung are also included in the list.

Meanwhile, Pham Nhat Vu, former chairman of AVG, has been charged with giving bribes under Clause 4, Article 364 of the 2015 Criminal Code.

At the same time, Son, Tuan, Hai and Tra are charged with receiving bribes under Clause 4, Article 354 of the 2015 Criminal Code.

According to the indictment of the Supreme People’s Court, in 2015, the MIC-run MobiFone bought 95 percent of AVG for 8.9 trillion VND (382.7 million VND), many times higher than the actual value of the struggling firm.

During the purchasing process, Son, Tuan, Tra and Hai made use of their positions to speed up the deal without approval from the Prime Minister, despite knowing about the poor financial situation AVG was in. The deal caused a loss of over 6.59 trillion VND (283.3 million USD) to the State.

Son received 3 million USD from AVG Chairman Vu while Tra, Hai and Tuan got 2.5 million USD, 500,000 USD and 200,000 USD, respectively, to accelerate the transaction.

According to the Supreme People’s Procuracy, the defendants had shown repentance and responsibility to deal with the consequences of their deeds.

Tra and Hai returned all of the money they received, while Tuan gave back nearly 200,000 USD. Son suggested refunding part of the money from his account at Joint the Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank).

The trial is scheduled to run until December 31.