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Former PetroVietnam official jailed for life in corruption case

Source: Vietnam Investment Review.

This material belongs to: Financial Times.

Two former senior Vietnamese officials, including one whose kidnapping from Germany caused an international diplomatic incident, were handed stiff jail sentences in Hanoi on Monday at the conclusion of a closely-watched corruption trial in the communist state.

Trinh Xuan Thanh, former chairman and general director of PetroVietnam Construction Corporation, was sentenced to life imprisonment for embezzlement and economic mismanagement, according to VNExpress, the state-run Vietnamese news website.

The embezzlement charges against Mr Trinh carried a maximum sentence of death, but prosecutors lowered their recommendations to a life sentence. However, he faces separate embezzlement charges in another trial later this week that could see him put to death.

The former executive was taken from Berlin’s Tiergarten park by Vietnamese security agents last year in an incident that caused Germany’s government to expel the country’s intelligence agency station chief in response. Vietnamese police claimed he had turned himself in voluntarily when he resurfaced in Hanoi.

Dinh La Thang, a former member of Vietnam’s Communist Party Politburo and chairman of PetroVietnam, was sentenced to 13 years in jail for economic mismanagement. The charges centred around alleged fraud involving the company, the country’s biggest state-owned enterprise by revenue, and Ocean Bank, a major private bank in which the oil and gas group bought a stake that it later wrote off when the bank nearly collapsed.

The other 20 defendants in the trial were given jail sentences of up to 22 years. The trial, which was closed to the foreign press, was Vietnam’s highest-profile corruption trial in years.