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MobiFone-AVG deal: two former ministers prosecuted

The Supreme People’s Procuracy on October 19 notified the prosecution of two former ministers of information and communications (MIC) – Nguyen Bac Son and Truong Minh Tuan, along with 12 other defendants in relation to the case of the MobiFone’s purchase of 95 percent of shares of the Audio Visual Global JSC (AVG).

Son and Tuan are indicted on the charge of “violating regulations on the management and use of public capital causing serious consequences” under Article 220, Clause 3 of the 2015 Criminal Code.

Eleven other persons accused of the same charge are Pham Dinh Trong, former head of the MIC’s Department of Enterprise Management; Vo Van Manh and Hoang Duy Quang from AMAX investment consultancy and valuation company; three former MobiFone leaders - Le Nam Tra, Cao Duy Hai and Phan Thi Hoa Mai; and five Deputy General Directors of MobiFone – Pham Thi Phuong Anh, Ho Tuan, Nguyen Dang Nguyen, Nguyen Bao Long and Nguyen Manh Hung.

Meanwhile, Pham Nhat Vu, former AVG Chairman is prosecuted for giving bribes in accordance to Article 364, Clause 4 of the 2015 Criminal Code.

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

Among the 14 defendants, eight have been detained.

According to the indictment, in 2015, the MIC-run MobiFone bought 95 percent of AVG with 8.9 trillion VND (382.7 million VND), many times higher than the real value of the struggling AVG at that time.

During the purchasing process, Son, Tuan, Tra and Hai made use of their positions to speed up the deal without the approval of the Prime Minister, despite their knowledge of the poor financial and business situation of AVG. The deal caused a loss of over 6.47 trillion VND (278.21 million USD) to the State.

Son also 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.

The families of Tra, Hai and Tuan have handed over more than 68 billion VND in total to the Investigation Police Authority under the Ministry of Public Security to make up for the loss they caused.

The authority has seized Son and Tuan’s houses and land and frozen their bank accounts.