The Ministry of Public Security has decided to detain Pham Nhat Vu, chairman of private pay TV firm Audio Visual Global JSC (AVG), for giving bribes.
TV Girm Chairman Implicated in Bribery Probe, Arrest Warrant Issued
Pham Nhat Vu, chairman of private pay TV firm Audio Visual Global JSC (AVG), at a police station. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Public Security

The decision to detain Vu, announced Friday, is part of an ongoing investigation into violations in managing and using state investment capital involving Vietnam’s third largest telecom firm MobiFone and certain divisions of the Ministry of Public Security, which has made headlines since 2016.

The nexus came to light after the state-run MobiFone broke into the pay TV market with the acquisition of a 95 percent stake in AVG in January 2016.

But government inspectors concluded that the deal had violated public investment laws and caused an estimated loss of about VND7 trillion ($307 million) to the state budget.

Vu used to live and work in Eastern Europe before coming back to Vietnam in the 2000s. He started with real estate investment, and then switched to building a pay TV business in 2004. The VND1.8 trillion ($77-million) AVG was established in 2008 and officially broadcasted in 2011.

Also on Friday, police opened investigation against Nguyen Bac Son and Truong Minh Tuan, former ministers of Information and Communications, for signs of receiving bribes in the AVG acquisition.

In February, Son and Tuan were arrested for violations related to management and use of public capital in the same case.

Son, then serving as information minister, directly approved the acquisition of AVG by MobiFone against regulations and asked subordinates to sign documents in contravention of regulations, investigation found.

Tuan, as a deputy information minister, had signed a decision to approve the illegal acquisition without the Prime Minister’s approval. He became information minister in 2016 but was  dismissed from his position in a secret ballot by the legislative National Assembly last October.

Several other people involved in the AVG case were also arrested and are facing criminal charges, including Cao Duy Hai, former general director of MobiFone; Pham Thi Phuong Anh, the firm's former deputy general director; Le Nam Tra, 57, its former chairman and general director; and Pham Dinh Trong, 48, former head of the Department of Enterprise Management under the Ministry of Information and Communications.

An ongoing corruption crackdown spearheaded by Party General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong has seen scores of officials and top businesspeople arrested and sent to jail in recent years. Trong has said that there will be no let up in the anti-corruption drive.

Theo VnExpress