12 accused in fake cancer medicine trading case brought to court hinh anh 1Defendants at the court (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) – The People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City on September 24 opened the first-instant trial on 12 people accused in the “trading in fake goods being curative medicines” case at the Vietnam Pharma Joint Stock Company (VN Pharma).

Nguyen Minh Hung, VN Pharma Chairman and General Director, and his 11 accomplices are accused of trading fake H-Capita 500mg Caplet (H-Capita) for cancer treatment.

If found guilty, they may face from 20 years in jail to life imprisonment or even death penalty under Article 157 of the Criminal Code 1999.

The court summoned nearly 200 people related to the case, including many Health Ministry officials.

The indictment of the Supreme People's Procuracy said that the value of the drug batch they traded was only 251,000 USD but the defendants intentionally raised it to 572,000 USD.

The difference of 321,000 USD was transferred to two overseas accounts of Auspicious Keen Limited and Sigma Holding Corp, both located at 132 Nathan Road, TsimShaTsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong. They later received money back in Vietnam.

The procuracy also asked the investigating agency to further clarify responsibilities of the Drug Administration of Vietnam, VN Pharma and other individuals involved in the case.

According to the investigation, from 2013 to 2014, Hung ordered Vo ManhCuong, former director of H&C International Maritime Company,to purchase imported medicines reportedly manufactured by Canada’s Helix Pharmaceuticals Company and supply the drugs to Vietnamese hospitals.

The batch included 9,300 boxes of 500mg caplets of H-Capita, a cancer treatment drug valued at 5.3 billion VND (251,000 USD).

Hung asked his staff to forge documents related to the medicines and submit them to the administration.

The company also faked receipts and payment procedures to acquire import licences from the ministry.

Suspicious of the origin of the batch, the administration launched an investigation in April 2014.

Up to 97 percent of the imported batch was then found to consist of low-quality capecitabine, a chemotherapy drug of unknown origin and not licensed for use in treatment.

The Ministry of Public Security started legal proceedings in November 2015.
At the trial in August 2017, Hung and Cuong were sentenced to 12 years in prison for smuggling. Seven others received sentences of one year and six months to five years behind bars for smuggling and faking documents and seals of organisations. 

Later the same year, the High People’s Procuracy in Ho Chi Minh City protested the judgment, asking for clarification on Hung’s charge and the alleged irresponsibility of the administration which allowed Hung and his accomplices to import fake drugs and give commissions to doctors to prescribing the drug.

At an appeal court held in October 2017, the High People’s Court in Ho Chi Minh City approved the proposal and cancelled all the judgment given at the previous court, asking for further investigation into the defendants with the charge of “trading in fake goods being curative medicines”.

During the investigation, authorities decided to prosecute three more people.

In July this year, the Supreme People’s Procuracy issued an indictment and prosecuted Hung, Cuong and the 10 accomplices for “trading in fake goods being curative medicines”, along with several Health Ministry officials for “lacking responsibility, causing serious consequences”.

On September 18, the Investigation Police Agency under the Ministry of Public Security issued a decision to start legal proceedings on the “lacking responsibility, causing serious consequences” case happeningat the Drug Administration of Vietnam under the Ministry of Health and relevant agencies during the process of verifying, approving and issuing licences for the import of H-Capita lot.

The current court will run until September 30./.