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Health official sacked as Viet A investigation continues

The Communist Party Committee in southern Vietnam’s Kien Giang province has removed the director of the provincial health department from all his positions, as an investigation into the bidding for substandard COVID-19 test kits continues.

Ha Van Phuc was dismissed from the Provincial Party Committee Executive Board, sacked as director of the Department of Health and forced to give up his role as delegate to the Kien Giang People’s Council for the 2020-2025 term at a committee meeting on Wednesday, the state-controlled Voice of Vietnam news site reported.

Phuc was disciplined in August last year for approving healthcare company Viet A’s bids to provide hospitals with medical supplies, biological products and COVID test kits.

The kits were found to be substandard and the company’s chief executive officer later admitted to paying officials the equivalent of U.S.$34 million in bribes to win contracts at inflated prices, earning Viet A U.S.$172 million in profits.

The scandal has claimed the jobs of top Vietnamese officials as the communist party continues its “blazing furnace” crackdown on corrupt cadres.

On Wednesday, parliament approved the removal of President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who was forced to take responsibility for Viet A and other COVID scandals that happened on his watch.

Two deputy prime ministers and three ministers have also been removed by the party in connection with COVID corruption.

Translated by RFA Vietnamese. Edited by Mike Firn.