Court upholds life sentence for former minister Nguyen Bac Son hinh anh 1Former Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Bac Son (front) and other defendants listen to the verdict at the appeal trial on April 27 (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The Hanoi-based High-Level People’s Court on April 27 upheld the life imprisonment for former Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Bac Son, who committed wrongdoings in the MobiFone-AVG deal.

According to the jury, in 2015, the MobiFone Telecommunications Corporation carried out a TV service investment project in which it used State capital to buy 95 percent of the Audio Visual Global JSC (AVG)’s shares for 8.9 trillion VND (379 million USD). The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), which represents the State ownership at MobiFone was responsible for directing this firm’s implementation of this project and approving the project after the Prime Minister gave the go-ahead.

However, the defendants, who held different positions and roles at MobiFone, the MIC and the AMAX investment consultancy and valuation company, violated legal regulations when they proposed the project; assessed the AVG’s financial and business situation; evaluated the company; used the valuation results to negotiate and decide share purchase prices; and made, submitted and approved the investment project, causing a “particularly serious loss” of over 6.59 trillion VND to the State.

The appeal court said as MIC Minister then, Nguyen Bac Son directly guided MobiFone’s purchase of AVG shares, signed the decision on the foundation of the valuation team and agreed on the purchase price of over 8.9 trillion VND for the 95 percent of AVG shares. He also ordered that the deal be carried out right in 2015.

During the project implementation, Son discussed with Pham Nhat Vu, former Chairman of the AVG Board of Directors, for many times. After MobiFone transferred the money to the AVG, he received a 3 million USD bribe from Vu.

At the trial, Nguyen Bac Son pleaded guilty.

The jury upheld the life sentence for him, including the life imprisonment for “taking bribes” and 16 years in prison for “violating regulations on the management and use of public investment capital, causing serious consequences”.

Meanwhile, other defendants in the case received reduced sentences.

Le Nam Tra, former Chairman of MobiFone, will spend four years in prison, down by three years from the verdict in the first-instance trial, for “violating regulations on the management and use of public investment capital, causing serious consequences”. However, the penalty of 16-year imprisonment for “taking bribes” was still upheld. The total sentence is 20 years behind bars.

For “violating regulations on the management and use of public investment capital, causing serious consequences”, former deputy general directors of MobiFone Ho Tuan, Nguyen Manh Hung, Pham Thi Phuong Anh and Nguyen Bao Long were given the sentence of 12-year imprisonment each. The initial penalty for them was 2 years and 6 months in prison.

Nguyen Dang Nguyen, another former Deputy General Director of MobiFone, received 12 months’ probation, compared to the initial prison sentence of two years.

Phan Thi Hoa Mai, former member of MobiFone’s member council, and Hoang Duy Quang, a valuation officer at AMAX, will be respectively sentenced to 12 months and 14 months in prison. The initial punishments for them were 2.5 years and three years in jail, respectively./.