Vietnam orders prosecution of oil firm official in corruption crackdown

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnamese police have ordered the prosecution of an official at scandal-hit state energy firm PetroVietnam over financial losses, the Ministry of Public Security said on Tuesday.

PetroVietnam is at the heart of a sweeping high-level corruption crackdown in the communist state.

The ministry said in a statement that Phan Dinh Duc, a member of PetroVietnam’s board of directors, would face prosecution on suspicion of “violation of state regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences”.

PetroVietnam told Reuters in an emailed statement it would cooperate with the authorities in the investigation.

Former PetroVietnam chairman Dinh La Thang, 56, was arrested on Dec 8. Thang, also a former member of Vietnam’s politburo, was the most senior executive arrested in the scandal.

Police have said they are investigating alleged violations of state rules at PetroVietnam, which resulted in a loss of an 800 billion dong ($35.2 million) investment in local lender Ocean Bank.

The corruption crackdown made global headlines in August when Germany accused Vietnam of kidnapping Trinh Xuan Thanh, a former chairman of PetroVietnam’s construction unit, in Berlin after he applied for asylum there.

Vietnamese police denied he had been kidnapped saying he had turned himself in and returned to Vietnam, where he is in detention. The Communist Party has said Thanh will go on trial next month.

Reporting by Mi Nguyen; Editing by Robert Birsel