Vietnam seeks lengthy jail terms for former officials of state oil firm: media

FILE PHOTO: Dinh La Thang is seen at a ceremony in Hanoi, Vietnam July 2, 2015. REUTERS/Kham/Files

HANOI (Reuters) - Prosecutors in Vietnam were seeking long jail terms on Thursday for a former member of the country’s ruling politburo and a high-profile former official over losses of hundreds of millions of dollars at a state oil firm, domestic media said.

Dinh La Thang, the former politburo official and one-time chairman of PetroVietnam, faces 14 to 15 years in jail for “deliberate violation of state regulations on economic management”, media quoted prosecutors as saying in court in Hanoi.

Thang is the most senior politician to face trial in decades. Scores of former officials and bankers have been arrested in a sweeping crackdown on corruption in the communist state whose fast-growing economy is a lure for investors.

The Supreme People’s Procuracy of Vietnam sought life in prison for Trinh Xuan Thanh, the former chairman of PetroVietnam Construction, whose case grabbed world headlines last year when Germany accused Vietnam of kidnapping him from a Berlin park.

He is accused over losses of more than $150 million and prosecutors could potentially have sought a death sentence.

Thanh denied accusations by witnesses in court on Tuesday that he had handled bags of money sent to officials as bribes, the website VNexpress said.

The two are accused alongside 20 others who face charges of deliberate mismanagement, embezzlement, or both, in the most important trial of the widening crackdown on corruption.

The crackdown intensified last year after Nguyen Phu Trong, the general secretary of the Communist Party, won a power struggle with former prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

Thang testified on Tuesday that the previous prime minister took a key decision that led to PetroVietnam’s losses.

Editing by Clarence Fernandez