Vietnam Arrests Health Minister, Hanoi Mayor Over COVID Test Kit Scandal
Vietnam Arrests Health Minister, Hanoi Mayor Over COVID Test Kit Scandal

By Caden Pearson

Authorities in Vietnam on Tuesday arrested the country’s health minister and the mayor of Hanoi for their roles in an alleged $170 million COVID-19 testing kit scandal.

Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party expelled the two officials from the regime and they were sacked from their positions after being accused of violating party rules and allegedly causing losses to the state budget, Reuters reported.

The country’s legislative body, the National Assembly, and the People’s Council of Hanoi voted the oust the two officials from their roles before the regime’s security ministry issued arrest warrants late Tuesday.

The country’s health minister, Nguyen Thanh Long, who assumed the role in 2020, faces accusations of abusing his position as an official to violate the law in regard to COVID-19 test kits, according to a statement by Vietnam’s Public Security Ministry.

He has been accused of mismanagement and facilitating a local firm to overstate the prices of its COVID-19 test kits.

Meanwhile, Hanoi officials unanimously voted to dismiss chairman Chu Ngoc Anh, essentially the mayor, after he was accused of “violating regulations on management and use of State assets, causing loss and waste.”

Anh was a minister of science and technology before being appointed as Hanoi chairman in September 2020.

“After being approved by the Supreme People’s Procuracy, the Ministry of Public Security has implemented the decisions and orders in accordance with law,” the statement added.

Their arrests come amid an intensifying anti-corruption drive that was launched in 2016.

Police from the Ministry of Public Security have been investigating officials for violating “regulations on bidding, causing serious consequences,” abusing their “position and power,” and “bribery.”

This effort has seen dozens of senior health officials arrested in recent months, accused of wrongdoings in medical equipment procurement, including COVID-19 test kits.

Senior finance and diplomatic officials have also been targeted, and many have faced trials and been jailed, Reuters reported.

Vietnam’s communist regime announced Long’s and Anh’s expulsion from the Communist Party on Monday, according to a government release.

The regime said the two officials “degraded … political ideology, violated the party’s regulations and caused losses to the state budget.”

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