Vietnam court jailed two former ministers for coronavirus test kits scandal

The court ruled that the two ex-ministers had abused their positions and violated established procedures in the procurement of test kits.

In a significant development highlighting Vietnam’s commitment to combating corruption, two former cabinet ministers have been sentenced to prison in connection with a COVID-19 test kits scandal on Friday (Jan 12). The Ministry of Public Security said that a court in Vietnam found many other officials guilty of bribery and mismanagement for their respective roles in a coronavirus test skit scandal.

Former Minister of Health, Nguyen Thanh Long, and the former Science and Technology Minister, Chu Ngoc Anh, were sentenced to prison by a court in Vietnam. The former Minister of Health, Nguyen Thanh Long was sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment for taking bribes worth US$2.25 million. Meanwhile, the former science and technology minister, Chu Ngoc Anh was sentenced to three years of imprisonment for mismanagement.

The court ruled that the two ex-ministers had abused their positions and violated established procedures in the procurement of test kits. A private medical firm Viet A Technology Corp was accused of conspiring along with the officials to produce coronavirus test kits that were sold at inflated prices. The investigation revealed that the substandard kits not only compromised the accuracy of COVID-19 testing but also posed a significant risk to public health.

As quoted by Phap Luat Online newspaper Nguyen Thanh Long, the former health minister said, “I was wrong, I am sorry”. Vietnam has intensified its anti-graft campaign that has witnessed many senior officials and ministers investigated for corruption, including the former president and premier Nguyen Xuan Phuc and two deputy prime ministers.
The ministry said that Viet A has sold almost 4.5 million coronavirus test kits in Vietnam during the pandemic period at very high prices three times higher than the real cost and had illegally generated 1.23 trillion dongs which is around US$50.25 million. Phan Quoc Viet, founder and chief executive of Viet A was given a 29-year sentence at the trial, along with a 25-year term in a separate trial in late December.

The case has broader implications for Vietnam’s governance and the fight against corruption. It signals the commitment to maintaining transparency and accountability. The court’s decision against the two former cabinet ministers reflects Vietnam’s dedication to upholding the rule of law and ensuring that guilty people are held responsible for any misconduct that may compromise public health and safety.