March 29, 2018 / 10:02 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Former Vietnam Politburo member jailed for 18 years over $35 mln losses

(Add detail, comment from lawyer)

HANOI, March 29 (Reuters) - A Vietnamese court jailed on Thursday a former Politburo member for 18 years after he was convicted of financial irregularities at a state-owned enterprise, adding to a 13-year sentence handed down separately in January, his lawyer said.

Dinh La Thang, 57, was convicted of “deliberate violation of state regulations on economic management”, his lawyer, Dao Huu Dang, told Reuters. Thang denied wrongdoing, he said.

Thang was prosecuted in connection with losses of up to 800 billion dong ($35 million) in a PetroVietnam investment in Ocean Commercial Joint Stock Bank.

Ocean Bank suffered heavy losses and was forcibly taken over in 2015 by the State Bank of Vietnam, the central bank.

Thang, the highest-level politician to have been sentenced for decades, will also have to pay a fine of 600 billion dong ($26.31 million), Dang said.

The Politburo is Vietnam’s top decision-making body. Thang lost his position in the Politburo last year, after he came under suspicion of wrongdoing.

In January, Thang was handed a 13-year sentence after being found guilty of “economic mismanagement” at a coal-fired power plant overseen by state-owned energy firm PetroVietnam, of which he was chairman.

The People’s Court of Hanoi also handed sentences of between 15 months of probation to 16 years in prison to six other people for their involvement in the case at the trial starting on Monday last week, according to the lawyer and state media.

Dang said it was not clear if Thang would appeal. ($1 = 22,809 dong) (Reporting by Khanh Vu Editing by Robert Birsel)

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