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Vietjet senior official under house arrest due to bribery case

A former official at VietJet, a Vietnamese low-cost airline, has been arrested in connection with a bribery scandal surrounding for-profit COVID-19 repatriation flights. This scandal is part of a larger anti-corruption crackdown in Vietnam, where over 50 individuals have been accused of bribery. The investigation has revealed that 20 officials and civil servants allegedly received nearly $7 million in bribes to facilitate administrative procedures for repatriation flights.

According to reports, Nguyen Manh Cuong, the head of e-commerce at VietJet, has been under house arrest for the past two weeks following accusations of offering bribes to secure for-profit repatriation flights during the peak of the pandemic. Cuong is not the only one implicated, as four other individuals, including Dang Nhat Duc, the Director of Top Agent Japan, and Vu Hong Quang, the former Deputy Head of the Aviation Transport Department, have also been placed under house arrest on suspicion of bribery.

The scandal emerged as part of a major anti-corruption initiative in Vietnam, leading to the resignation of the country’s President. The investigation uncovered a scheme involving thousands of dollars in bribery money, with multiple officials and civil servants implicated. The trial resulted in the sentencing of 54 people for bribery, fraud, and abuse of power. At least 20 individuals received nearly $7 million from around 100 businesses, which was used to expedite administrative procedures for repatriation flights.

During the trial, varying prison sentences were given, with some individuals facing terms exceeding ten years. However, others could potentially face even longer penalties. The investigation revealed that approximately 20 businesses had been bribed over 500 times, totaling nearly $6.8 billion (VND 165 billion). Additionally, it was reported that around $9.5 million in bribery money was involved, including approximately $2.7 million given to law enforcement officials in an attempt to avoid prosecution.

Vietnamese airlines, including VietJet, operated nearly 400 repatriation flights from the start of the pandemic until mid-2021, allowing Vietnamese nationals to return home amidst global travel restrictions. However, passengers allegedly faced complicated procedures and were subjected to exorbitant fees for quarantine and tickets. Around 20 businesses were reportedly bribed multiple times to secure flight approvals.



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