The family of a former information minister involved in a notorious TV firm acquisition case has returned VND66 billion ($3 million) in bribes to the state budget.
The return of a second tranche of money (VND45 billion or $2 million) by the family of Nguyen Bac Son, former Minister of Information and Communications, happened one day ahead of the verdict that the court is set to pronounce Saturday.They delivered 21 billion dong, the first batch, on Monday.
Son's lawyer Vu Tien Vinh said this action could help mitigate the sentence.
The Supreme People's Procuracy of Vietnam, the nation's premier prosecuting agency, last Friday recommended the death penalty for Son, 66, for "violating regulations on the management and use of public capital that led to serious consequences" and "taking bribes."
Son is accused of receiving about $3 million in bribes to push for the acquisition of private pay TV firm Audio Visual Global (AVG) by state-owned telecom giant MobiFone back in 2015.
But returning part of the bribe cannot guarantee that he can escape the death penalty, as the panel of judges will consider many aspects of his violation before making a final decision.
Son is in court with another former Information Minister, Truong Minh Tuan, and 14 other defendants, including former MobiFone and AVG general directors.
Former ministers are on trial for violations in the scandalous multimillion-dollar TV company acquisition that is said to have caused nearly $6 billion.6 trillion ($284.4 million) causing a loss to the state budget.
Prosecutors have recommended a prison sentence of 14-16 years for former Minister Tuan.
Son, Information Minister from 2011 to 2016, was dismissed last October. Tuan, information minister from 2016, was suspended from his position in July last year and dismissed in a secret ballot by the legislative National Assembly three months later.
The indictment states that in 2015, telecommunications giant MobiFone, under the Ministry of Information and Communications, wanted to invest in the field of pay television.Son promoted the acquisition of AVG and pushed the deal to be done before the end of his term.
After five rounds of negotiations, under Son's direction, AVG and MobiFone reached an agreement on October 2, 2015 for the latter to acquire 95% of the former company's shares.Son and Tuan, then his deputy minister at the time, decided not to disclose information about the deal and suggested that the information be classified as a state secret.
The investigator discovered that although the price and investment efficiency of the purchase and sale have not been clarified by the competent authority, on December 15, 2015, Son issued a directive requesting immediate implementation and completion of the transaction. at the end of fiscal year 2015.
After that, he directed Tuan to sign the decision approving the acquisition on December 21, 2015.
MobiFone therefore bought 95% of shares in AVG for nearly 8 dong.9 trillion ($382.6 million), many times higher than the actual value of AVG, bringing great benefits to the then Chairman of the pay TV company, Mr. Pham Nhat Vu and shareholders.
Investigators discovered that, in order for the deal to go through in his favor, Vu gave Son 3 million USD, Tuan USD 200,000, and 2 USD in bribes.5 million for former MobiFone Chairman Le Nam Tra and $500,000 for former MobiFone General Director Cao Duy Hai.
After discovering the mistake, the investigators assessed that Son, Tuan and some MobiFone leaders had caused a loss of nearly 6 dong.6 trillion for the state.
In 2018, Vu voluntarily returned nearly 8 dong.8 trillion for MobiFone, including the initial payment of 8 billion VND.5 trillion as well as lost interest payments and other expenses.
The prosecution authorities determined that Vu was not primarily responsible for the damage caused to MobiFone by Son and his accomplices, and noted that he had actively compensated the entire state for the damage.
According to the indictment, nearly 100 billion VND has been recovered related to giving and receiving bribes in the case.
Vu was sentenced to between three and four years in prison for paying bribes.
The trial was scheduled to end on Saturday.
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