Former Vietnam Health Minister’s Trial Begins

Vietnam’s former health minister and 37 others are on trial in Hanoi for their roles in producing and distributing overpriced COVID-19 test kits.

The Viet A scandal, named after the semi-private firm that made the kits, involved senior officials facilitating million-dollar deals to supply hospitals and local communities with testing equipment at inflated prices.

The defendants, all wearing masks, were escorted by uniformed police to the court building in Hanoi.

Viet A has been implicated in a scandal involving 100 officials and businesspeople, reportedly netting $172 million, with $34 million going towards bribing officials. The company produced 8.7 million test kits during the pandemic.

Officials in Vietnam were found to be pocketing money from companies organising repatriation flights and community testing.

Three officials were jailed for life last year, while dozens were given lengthy jail terms for bribery and corruption charges. In 2022, the national assembly removed Pham Binh Minh and Vu Duc Dam from their positions as deputy prime ministers.

Minh was responsible for organising flights to bring Vietnamese home from overseas, while Dam handled the Covid-19 response within the country.

The purge, spearheaded by Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, resulted in the downfall of President Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

COVID-19Covid-19 test kitsFormer Vietnam Health Minister's Trial BeginsVietnamVietnam Health Minister