September 1, 2017 / 11:23 AM / 2 years ago

Vietnam prosecutes more oil firm officials for alleged mismanagement

HANOI (Reuters) - Four more officials from Vietnam’s scandal-hit state oil firm PetroVietnam are being prosecuted over allegations of economic mismanagement linked to investment losses in a local bank, police said on Friday.

People pass a branch of Ocean Bank located at the Petro Vietnam's building in Hanoi, Vietnam September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Kham

PetroVietnam and Vietnam’s banking sector are at the heart of a sweeping corruption crackdown in the communist state.

The four officials are accused of intentional breaches of state rules over a loss-making investment in Ocean Group’s banking unit, police said in an online statement.

Investigations into PetroVietnam made global headlines last month when Germany accused Vietnam of kidnapping Trinh Xuan Thanh, a former official of a PetroVietnam unit, from a park in Berlin and forcing him home to face charges of financial mismanagement.

A Politburo member who was a former PetroVietnam chairman and a vice trade minister have also been sacked from their positions as part of the crackdown — unusual moves in a country where such senior officials are rarely dismissed.

The latest prosecutions include PetroVietnam’s vice general director Ninh Van Quynh, who was the company’s lead accountant from 2008 to 2014 during which former politburo member Dinh La Thang headed the firm. The other accused had all been PetroVietnam board members.

The four could not be reached for comment.

Police said there would also be new charges against former PetroVietnam chairman Nguyen Xuan Son, who had already been arrested in 2015 over his role in the bank scandal.

PetroVietnam said on its website that the prosecutions did not have any negative impact on its business and that it has been cooperating with the authorities.

PetroVietnam acquired an 800 billion dong ($35 million) stake in Ocean Group’s banking unit which was completely written off when the central bank took over it at no cost. Bank founder, tycoon Ha Van Tham, and dozens of other banking officials are on trial, accused of lending violations.

Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Keith Weir

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