Vietnam’s health minister arrested over COVID test gouging
An investigation concluded earlier that mismanagement in the science and health ministries had allowed Viet A Technology Corporation to inflate prices for test kits supplied to hospitals and health centers in Vietnam.
Nearly 60 suspects including ministry officials, public health leaders and military generals have been detained or are being investigated for involvement in the price gouging, according to the Ministry of Public Security.
The report said the two officials’ violations had harmed Vietnam’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and were costly to the state budget.
A deputy science minister, Pham Cong Tac, also was arrested Tuesday and accused of violating regulations on managing state assets.
Viet A took in $172 million for supplying its test kits in 62 localities. Its general director was arrested in December and allegedly admitted his Ho Chi Minh City-based company had inflated the selling price of a test kit to about $20, or 45% more than the original, to earn a difference of $21.5 million.
Phan Quoc Viet allegedly confessed to investigators that he paid illegal kickbacks worth $34 million to his state-owned partners who bought his test kits at the inflated prices.
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