Trinh Xuan Thanh, former Chairman of the PetroVietnam Construction Joint Stock Corporation (PVC) (Photo VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) –
The high-profile trial of Trinh Xuan Thanh, former Chairman of the PetroVietnam Construction Joint Stock Corporation (PVC), and his accomplices, ended on January 22 after two weeks of sitting with strict and fair punishment that fit the wrongdoings and losses to the State caused by the defendants.

Most of the defendants in the PVC case held key positions in important economic establishments and entrusted with large amounts of State capital and major economic projects, including the Thai Binh thermal electricity plant project No2.

[PVC trial: Strict penalties for Trinh Xuan Thanh and accomplices]

According to assessment of the judge council, the defendants have caused great damage and losses to State property due to their serios violations of economic management regulations. The damage does not stop there. The defendants’ wrongdoings also caused serious consequences on society.   

PVC is a member of the Vietnam National Oil an Gas Group (PetroVietnam or PVN). Trinh Xuan Thanh was Chairman of the company’s Board of Directors and Vu Duc Thuan its Director General from 2008 to 2012. In 2010, PVC fell into financial problems due to overstretched and ineffective investment. Instead of seeking measures to address the root of the problems, PVN assigned PVC to take charge of bad debts and loss-making investments worth a total 793 billion VND (34.8 million USD at current rate) under five projects of the PetroVietnam Financial Company (PVFC). As of 2011, PVC invested a total of 3,460 billion VND in 43 establishments while its charter capital was only 2,500 billion VND.

While aware of PVC’s financial problems and lack of capacity and experience in implementing large-scale thermal power projects, Dinh La Thang as then Chairman of Member Council of PVN gave the PVC the EPC contract package for the Thai Binh thermal power project No2, which is a key national project, in the form of appointment of contractor.

On the other hand, while the adjusted investment project was not approved, plus the lack of the FEED design, total estimates, bidding dossiers along with many other legal documents, Dinh La Thang still instructed his subordinates to sign the EPC contract No33 on February 28, 2011 and a contract on transferring investment ownership No 4194 on May 13, 2011 with total value of 1.2 billion USD. The signing of those contracts was actually aimed at transferring money from PVN to the debt-ridden PVC.

Within only 10 days from May 23 to 31, 2011, the PVC withdrew 1,000 billion VND out of an advance of 1,312 billion VND and 6.6 million USD that PVN had given against regulation for the Thai Binh 2 project. Later, PVC used 1,115 billion VND out of the advance for wrong purposes, causing losses of 119.8 billion VND to PVN.

Besides, Trinh Xuan Thanh and Vu Duc Thuan gave the direction to Nguyen Anh Minh, then Deputy Director General of PVC) to instruct his subordinates to make false dossiers for the Vung Ang 1 and Quang Trach 1 thermo power plant projects to appropriate more than 13 billion VND. Thanh, Thuan and Minh along with other accomplices divided the money among themselves. 

The judging council noted that the appointment of incapable contractor resulted in a 18-month delay in the implementation of the Thai Binh 2 project, pushing up total investment and interests on domestic and foreign loans, and the expiration of warranty for equipment and machinery even before the plant was put into operation.  

The judging council stressed that if all ministries and agencies spent State capital or made advancement payment regardless of regulations, the national economy would fall into disorder.

When making decision on punishment, the judging council took into consideration both the past merits and the offence of each defendant.

Regarding Dinh La Thang, who basically admitted to his wrongdoings, the judging council decided to give a more lenient sentence plus the additional punishment of banning him from holding certain positions and jobs for certain period, taking into account his good career performance in the past and clean police record. 

For Trinh Xuan Thanh, whose offences call for the capital punishment, the judging council gave out the life sentence considering that Thanh and his family voluntarily paid back the appropriated money and Thanh himself admitted to the illegal behavior. The fact that all members in his family are officials with contributions to the State was also taken into consideration.

The trial of many defendants who used to hold high positions in the Party and State apparatus as well as in State-owned enterprises demonstrates the firm resolve of the Communist Party of Vietnam and the State to fight corruption and wastefulness through upholding the rule of law. 

Not stopping at the wrongdoings of defendants in the case, the judging council requested functional agencies to continue investigation into related suspected law violations at PVN and PVC such as the use of more than 1,115 billion VND of advance for the Thai Binh 2 project for purposes outside of the intended one, and the losses of thousands of billions of VND when PVC was appointed to be construction contractor for several other major projects including the Phu Tho ethanol plant and Dinh Vu fibre project.-VNA