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Major Corruption Crackdown Nets Two High-Profile Officials

A major corruption crackdown has taken a dramatic turn this week, as a runaway former executive turned himself into police and a government minister faces dismissal.

VnExpress reports that Trinh Xuan Thanh, who was wanted by the Ministry of Public Security, turned himself in after spending almost a year hiding abroad. It is not known where he was located.

Thanh is the former chairman and CEO of PetroVietnam Construction JSC (PVC), a subsidiary of the state-run energy giant PetroVietnam. For a period of time, he was considered highly successful and entered the political scene as deputy chief of staff at the Ministry and Trade before becoming vice mayor of Hau Giang province, the news source shares.

However, his image turned sour when he was caught at the wheel of a US$230,000 Lexus in June of 2016. This spurred an investigation into his past, and it was discovered that Thanh had incurred losses of VND3.2 trillion (US$147 million) at PVC through poor investments.

He left Vietnam for sick leave in mid-August and disappeared. In response, high-level officials issued an international arrest warrant for Thanh and removed him from the Communist Party, VnExpress adds.

There are no further details on how or where Thanh turned himself in.

Meanwhile Reuters reports that Ho Thi Kim Thoa, the current deputy trade minister, faces the possibility of being stripped of all of her official titles for her involvement in the same scandal. Thoa appointed Thanh to his position at PVC.

Thoa has been accused of committing other wrongdoings related to rules on land, privatization, share transfers and asset declaration during her time in the energy industry, the news source adds.

Nguyen Phu Trong, the General Secretary of the Communist Party, has called for Thoa to be fired, an unusual move in Vietnam. According to Reuters, Trong told Vietnam Television that publicizing corrupt activity is key.

"Publicity is a sword to heal wounds; it has a great effect, but it has to be accurate, healthy, and we have to reject information that is wrong, distorted and not constructive," the party leader was quoted saying.

[Photo via Tuoi Tre]

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