Four suspects involved in MobiFone’s notorious acquisition of AVG on December 16 declared that they had completed the acquisition of AVG under the direction of former Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Bac Son.
Former Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Bac Son in court in Hanoi on December 16 - PHOTO: VNA
Specifically, Son’s successor, Truong Minh Tuan, stated that he was serving as the deputy minister of the Ministry of Information and Communications at the time and was not in charge of the acquisition of AVG but Son had asked him to do the job, the local media reported.
He was asked to sign a document, proposing the Ministry of Public Security treat the deal as a State secret and Decision 236/QD-BTTTT approving MobiFone’s investment in AVG.
“Before signing the decision, I met with Son and told him that I had no authority to sign the decision,” Tuan declared, adding that Son still insisted on him signing it.
Son also directed Tuan and the head of the Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information to tell former AVG chairman Pham Nhat Vu that he must not sell AVG’s stake to foreign firms, Tuan remarked.
Meanwhile, Pham Dinh Trong, former head of the Ministry of Information and Communications’ Department of Corporate Management, confirmed that Son made him draft the letter proposing the Ministry of Public Security treat the deal as a State secret and Decision 236.
According to former MobiFone board chairman Le Nam Tra’s statement, Son claimed MobiFone had asked for the Ministry of Information and Communications’ approval for its investment in a private pay TV provider in late January 2015.
One month later, Son told him that former AVG Chairman Vu wanted to sell a 95% stake in the company and asked Tra to make the acquisition.
Responding to the court’s question on why he had completed the acquisition despite knowing that Decision 236 was illegal, Tra said he thought the Ministry of Information and Communications had allowed them to acquire the stake as it had signed the decision.
Tra added that the signing of the deal fell within the jurisdiction of former MobiFone general director Cao Duy Hai, but Son had asked Tra to sign the deal.
Hai told the court that he had proposed delaying the signing as he was aware of the poor financial capability of AVG, but Tra and Son had insisted that the deal be executed quickly.
The Supreme People's Procuracy also determined that Son had directed, decided and accelerated the acquisition of AVG’s stake. Son knew that only the prime minister had the authority to assess the value and effectiveness of the deal, but he still directed Trong to establish a working team to buy the AVG stake for nearly VND8.9 trillion.
When the deal had yet to be appraised, Son asked Tuan to sign a decision to approve the deal and MobiFone leaders to sign a contract on the acquisition in 2015.
Son’s illegal directions caused losses of nearly VND6.6 trillion for the State budget, according to the procuracy.
The first-instance hearing against 14 individuals involved in MobiFone’s notorious acquisition of AVG will last 16 days, from December 16 to 31, including weekends.
Among those on trial, Tuan, Son and 11 others were indicted for violating regulations on State capital management and usage, causing serious consequences, based on Article 220 of the Penal Code, which carries a prison sentence of 10-20 years.
In addition, the two former ministers, Hai and Tra, faced charges of receiving bribes. They could be sentenced to 20 years in jail, life imprisonment or capital punishment.
Meanwhile, former AVG chairman Vu was charged with giving bribes, based on Article 364 of the Penal Code, which carries a prison sentence of 12-20 years. SGT
The Hanoi People’s Court on December 16 opened the first instance trial of the case of telecom giant MobiFone’s purchase of 95 percent of Audio Visual Global JSC (AVG).