A representative of Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security recently told a committee of the country’s legislative body National Assembly that the ministry will soon end its investigation to strictly handle those who committed bribery in the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
According to news on March 14 in Thanh Nien, Tuoi Tre, and Thanh Tra newspapers, Deputy Minister of Public Security Tran Quoc To reported to the National Assembly’s Standing Committee that the Ministry of Public Security has been coordinating with agencies of The Supreme People’s Procuracy and the Supreme People’s Court in “urgent” investigation of the case of “taking bribes” that committed by senior officials of the Consular Department, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and a number of other cases concerned by the voters.
The Ministry of Public Security is focusing on soon concluding the investigation, proposing prosecution, and strictly handling violations related to the case at the Consular Department, reports quoted Deputy Minister To as saying.
On January 27, Vietnamese authorities announced that four Foreign Ministry officials had been arrested on charges of “taking bribes” in connection with flights bringing Vietnamese nationals home during the pandemic, commonly known as “rescue flights.”
The four suspects include the female director of the Consular Department, Nguyen Thi Huong Lan, 48 years old, a deputy director, chief of staff, and a deputy director of this department.
Authorities accused the four people mentioned above of “taking bribes” and taking personal profits during the approval process for companies to carry out flights to bring Vietnamese citizens home from abroad.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic situation became tense in Vietnam and around the world, leading to countries closing their borders with each other from the beginning of 2020, VOA has repeatedly reported that Vietnamese citizens staying abroad had to spend 5 to 8 times higher than before the pandemic to be able to fly back home on flights run by the Vietnamese government.
According to statistics released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam in December 2021, the ministry and related agencies have made “800 flights, bringing nearly 200,000 Vietnamese citizens from more than 60 countries and territories to their home country.”
After news of the arrest of four Consular Bureau officials broke out, according to VOA’s observations, many people on social media estimated that if each citizen had to bribe the officials to arrange flights from $1,000-2,000, the total amount of bribes amounts to $200-400 million.
This amount is equivalent to between VND4.6 trillion and VND9.2 trillion, about 6-12 times the amount of bribes shared in the scandal of inflated prices of COVID-19 test kits of Viet A, an incident also caused shock and indignation in Vietnamese public opinion about the situation of people taking advantage of the epidemic to take advantage of poor people.