| HANOI, Sept 3
HANOI, Sept 3 Vietnamese police have arrested
four more people linked to the debt-laden state ship-builder
Vinashin, expanding a case that is widely seen as having
political implications in the run up to a leadership reshuffle.
Among those arrested on Friday were Tran Quang Vu, a board
member who was appointed head of the failing and overstretched
conglomerate after the government sacked his predecessor in
July and ordered the firm reorganised.
Also arrested were Tran Van Liem, another former member of
the management board, as well as Nguyen Van Tuyen and Nguyen
Tuan Duong, who were former CEOs of subsidiaries of Vinashin,
or Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Group.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has been a champion of
Vietnam's state-run conglomerates and a backer of Vinashin, and
analysts speculate that the public takedown of the shipbuilder
is linked to politicking ahead of an important Communist Party
conclave in early 2011.
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Several members of the powerful 15-man Politburo are
expected to retire or be reshuffled at the 11th Party Congress
in January next year and the fate of Dung, who is young enough
to stay on, remains one of the biggest questions, analysts say.
"The chickens are coming home to roost, for lack of good
governance, lack of control ... and it's put Vietnam's prestige
on the line," said Carlyle Thayer, a Vietnam specialist at the
University of New South Wales.
The government, headed by Dung, has been in charge of the
re-organisation and arrests, but Thayer said he thought they
could be a "pre-emptive strike" to limit the damage to Dung.
"There's probably a network out there that they're going to
unravel and they've got to decide how far and where it goes."
The four men were suspected of having "committed actions
that are against the laws on economic management, which
resulted in especially serious consequences", a statement by
the Ministry of Public Security said on the government's
It said clues had been uncovered in the investigation into
Vinashin's long-time CEO Pham Thanh Binh, who was arrested
early last month.
The Vinashin case could yet have implications for the
economy. Government documents show that Vinashin amassed debts
worth about $4.5 billion.
Earlier this week Fitch cut its rating of Vietcombank
VCB.HM, the country's second biggest partly private lender in
terms of assets and a pillar of the financial system, and said
it "could potentially be hit" by its exposure to Vinashin,
which was 16 percent of equity.
Fitch also affirmed its rating for Bank for Investment and
Development of Vietnam (BIDV), the country's second biggest
state-owned bank by assets, but gave a similar warning about
non-performing loans and Vinashin exposure.
BIDV had yet to disclose the extent of its exposure, Fitch
said. (Editing by Alex Richardson)