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Vietnam Oil Executives Could Face Death Penalty In Corruption Case

Vietnam’s government has put on trial 22 executives from state-owned energy company PetroVietnam for losses incurred by the company. Some of the offenses the executives are charged with are punishable by death in Vietnam, Reuters reports.

The trial is part of a crackdown on corruption and mismanagement in the energy and banking industries, which began after the security authorities of the country were given more influence in the communist state’s ruling party last year. The Vietnam police say they are investigating state rule violations at the company that led to a loss of about US$35 million for local lender Ocean Bank, as well as financial losses at PetroVietnam itself.

The most senior of the executives that stand accused of corruption and other crimes is PetroVietnam’s chairman and former member of Vietnam’s politburo, Dinh La Thang, who was ousted from the supreme decision-making body and from his position as head of the Communist party in Ho Chi Minh City along with his removal from the PetroVietnam board.

Another high-profile executive who will stand trial alongside Thang is Trinh Xuan Thanh. Thanh, according to German authorities, was kidnapped from a German park a year ago, after he sought asylum in the Western European country.

Related: Is A “Geopolitical Recession” Looming?

According to the German side, he was brought back to Vietnam against his will. Thanh himself appeared last August on Vietnam’s state TV and said he had returned home willingly to face charges related to the loss of US$150 million incurred by a PetroVietnam subsidiary.

Last month, Vietnam’s Prime Minister appointed another senior party official as the new chairman of the company and tasked him with handling loss-making projects and curbing expenses further.

The crackdown in PetroVietnam began in early December with the arrest of Thang. Another arrest of one member of the company’s board followed a few days later. According to the prosecution, the executives are guilty of "violation of state regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences."

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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