QUANG NINH (Vietnam News/Asia News Network): A trial has begun against 16 people accused of bid rigging over the purchase of medical equipment for Quang Ninh Obstetrics and Paediatrics Hospital, totalling almost US$10 million.
Quang Ninh Provincial People’s Court on Monday opened a first-instance trial for violations relating to the province’s health department, the hospital and the AIC Group.
The indictment reads that Nguyen Thi Thanh Nhan, former chairwoman and general director of the Advanced International Joint Stock Company (AIC Group), founded and managed all of the operations in the company, its subsidiaries and other businesses in the same ecosystem.
During the bidding process for six bid packages in the equipment procurement for Quang Ninh Obstetrics and Paediatrics Hospital, Truong Thi Xuan Loan, head of an AIC Group’s project management board; Nguyen Hong Son, AIC Group vice general manager, and Nguyen Thi Thu Phuong, head of AIC financial secretary division are accused of rigging the bids under Nhan’s direction.
Nguyen Thi Thanh Nhan, Truong Thi Xuan Loan, Nguyen Hong Son, and Nguyen Thi Tích, general director of Mopha, a company connected to AIC, have absconded and are being tried in their absence.
Nguyen Thi Thu Phuong turned herself in on July 28 this year but did not admit to the crime at the investigation agency.
AIC Group won four of the six bid packages, while Mopha JSC won the other two. The packages are worth over VNĐ232 billion ($9.43 million) in total.
Nguyen Thi Thanh Nhan and her accomplices caused more than VNĐ50.6 billion ($2.06 million) in damages to the State, court documents read.
The indictment also said that Cimeico company general director Nguyen Thi Quyen created value appraisals for 44 types of medical equipment that did not align with the laws. The documents were then sent to Quang Ninh authorities to complete the bidding dossiers.
The court document said that Quyen colluded and used the price quote provided by the head investor, causing damage worth VNĐ26.7 billion ($1.09 million) to the State.
Defendant Luong Van Tam, director of Quang Ninh health department’s project management board is also responsible for approving the value appraisals without detailed reports, leading to damages of more than VNĐ50.6 billion ($2.07 million) from the six bid packages to the State.
Investigations revealed that the former head of the planning and investment division Phạm Trọng Hieu and his deputy Nguyen Duc Quang at the provincial health department also played a role in the case. However, they are both deceased and therefore not considered for criminal liability.
Former director of Quang Ninh Obstetrics and Paediatrics Hospital Nguyen Quac Hung and 14 members of the hospital board signed a document approving the list of equipment changes but did not participate in the bidding process and bid packages appraisal due to the lack of expertise.
Investigation results also said that there is no proof that Hùng and the hospital board members colluded with contractors for personal gain, and therefore, there is no basis to initiate criminal proceedings against them.
Do Van Son, former head accountant of AIC Group turned himself in on June 22 this year, and admitted to altering the company’s financial reports under Nhan’s direction.
Defendants in the case have submitted more than VNĐ700 million ($28,460) in compensation for the damage caused.
The trial is expected to continue until Wednesday.
This is the third bid-rigging case in which defendant Nguyen ThiThanh Nhan is tried in absentia.
Last year, Hanoi People’s Court determined that Nguyen Thi Thanh Nhan played the key role in bidding violations and bribery at the Đồng Nai General Hospital and sentenced her to 30 years in prison.
In April 2023, Nhan continued to be prosecuted by the Ministry of Public Security in the case related to equipment procurement for the Biotechnology Centre of HCM City.
Nguyen Thi Tích (former director general of Mopha JSC) was sentenced to four years in prison, and Do Van Son (AIC Group’s former head accountant) was given a six-year sentence for their violations of bidding regulations at Dong Nai General Hospital.