Deputy foreign minister arrested in bribery case involving repatriation flights

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Tô Anh Dũng, Phạm Trung Kiên and Vũ Anh Tuấn (from left) were arrested for alledgedly taking bribes. — Photo

HÀ NỘI — Deputy foreign minister Tô Anh Dũng has been arrested over allegations he received bribes when organising repatriation flights for Vietnamese citizens abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Investigation Security Agency under the Ministry of Public Security on Thursday launched an investigation into the senior government official.

The arrest is the latest development in the investigation into bribery accusations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Consular Department and other authorities.

Two other men were also arrested for their alleged involvement in the case. They are Phạm Trung Kiên, an officer of the Ministry of Health’s Department of Medical Equipment and Projects, and Vũ Anh Tuấn, a former official of the Ministry of Public Security’s Department of Immigration.

In January, the Investigation Security Agency launched an official investigation into the bribery case. It issued documents to start criminal proceedings against and detain four other officials of the Consular Department for “taking bribes” in line with Article 354 of the Penal Code.

They are Nguyễn Thị Hương Lan, head of the Consular Department; Đỗ Hoàng Tùng, deputy head of the department; Lê Tuấn Anh, chief of the department’s office; and Lưu Tuấn Dũng, deputy head of the citizen protection desk at the department.

Further details of their crimes have not yet been made available by police, but since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when Việt Nam enforced stringent border closures and only let in a very limited number of flights, including special repatriation flights (so-called rescue flights) for Vietnamese stranded overseas, many people complained of exorbitant prices and procedure hassles for those few slots back home.

Việt Nam organised nearly 800 flights since the beginning of the pandemic, repatriating more than 200,000 Vietnamese citizens from over 60 countries and territories. — VNS

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