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March 2, 2024

Communist Party of Vietnam expels aide to Deputy PM

The Communist Party of Vietnam has expelled an assistant to Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam for being “ideologically and politically degraded” and accepting bribes.

The decision to expel Nguyen Van Trinh was made at a meeting of the Politburo and the Secretariat at Party Central Committee headquarters on Dec. 16 under the chairmanship of General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.

Trinh was detained and investigated by the Ministry of Public Security at the end of November for his role in the Viet A COVID-19 test kit scandal.

“Nguyen Van Trinh, Assistant to the Deputy Prime Minister, took advantage of his position … influencing responsible units and individuals at the Ministry of Health to grant Viet A Company a circulation registration number for COVID-19 test kits in contravention of the law, helping Viet A Company to sell COVID-19 test kit products at units and localities, and causing serious damage to State property,” the ministry said at the time.

“Nguyen Van Trinh is guilty of abusing [his] position and power while performing his official duties.”

Trinh was appointed assistant to incumbent Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam in Dec. 2018. As minister in charge of healthcare, Dam spearheaded the government’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Dam was in charge of healthcare when Viet A Joint Stock Company won a license to produce COVID-19 testing kits. They were sold at a 45% markup, earning $172 million in profits for the company even though the kits were found to be substandard. Viet A’s chief executive officer admitted bribing officials around VND800 billion (U.S.$34 million) to ensure the kits were used in hospitals,

Police questioned almost 100 people including eight officials from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Science and Technology. In June the Vietnam Communist Party expelled then Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long, and the Hanoi Mayor at the time Chu Ngoc Anh for their roles in the scandal. Anh was Minister of Science and Technology when the government approved the Viet A test kits.

Translated by RFA Vietnamese. Written in English by Mike Firn.

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