Vietnam Says Millions of Dollars Paid in Rescue Flight Bribes

(Bloomberg) -- Vietnamese authorities seek to charge 54 individuals following a yearlong investigation into alleged bribes tied to repatriation flights during the pandemic that led to dismissals of high-level government officials.

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Police are asking the Supreme People’s Procuracy to prosecute former government officials, including an ex-vice minister for foreign affairs and a former Vietnamese ambassador to Japan, according to a statement posted on the Ministry of Public Security’s website. Twenty-one people are facing charges of taking bribes and 23 with paying bribes, it said. Four others are charged with “abusing titles and powers.”

The probe led to the January resignation of former President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who assumed responsibility for the “violations and shortcomings” of some of his cabinet members involving graft cases related to a manufacturer of Covid-19 test kits and the rescue flights. The National Assembly also dismissed two deputy prime ministers following the anti-graft campaign.

The government organized about 800 repatriation fights that brought home more than 200,000 Vietnamese from over 60 countries and territories, according to VnExpress news website. The alleged bribes totaled millions of dollars, according to Bloomberg calculations based on local media reports, citing police’s conclusion.

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