The Central Inspection Commission has just proposed that the Politburo and the Party Central Committee consider disciplinary actions against Dinh La Thang, currently Politburo member and Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee.
Thang was the former secretary of the Party Committee at Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) and chairman of the board of members at PetroVietnam.
On April 27, the committee issued a press release on the conclusions of its meeting during April 24-26. Accordingly, Thang, together with a group of other former PetroVietnam officials, has to hold responsibility for various acts of mismanagement.
The committee highlighted four loss-making million-dollar projects by PetroVietnam ratified during 2009-2011, when Thang held the position of chairman, representing the state’s stake.
The projects include Dinh Vu Polyester Fibre and Yarn project and three bio-ethanol production facilities . Of them, the Dinh Vu Polyester Fibre and Yarn project repeatedly incurred losses and has stopped operations, while the ethanol projects have not even officially started operation.
Besides having to take responsibility for making these investment decisions, Thang also has to answer for signing Resolution 233/NQ-DU of the Party Committee at PetroVietnam, the contents of which do not comply with the law. This resolution allows the board of members, the board of directors, and member companies to assign bid packages to contractors of their choosing, instead of carrying out legal bidding procedures.
Consequently, Thang has to take responsibility for the resolutions and decisions the board of members made to assign large bidding packages to specific contractors, oftentimes going against the government’s decrees.
He is also charged with the board of member’s issuance of Resolution No.4266/NQ-DKVN investing more than the allowed funds into OceanBank, violating the Law on Financial Institutions and causing damage to PetroVietnam.
The four projects Dinh La Thang is held responsible for
The Dinh Vu Polyester Fibre and Yarn project started implementation in 2008. According to inspection results by the Government Inspectorate, the project started incurring losses since its pilot run in 2012, when it lost VND21 billion ($923,000). In 2013, it lost VND366 billion ($16.1 million) and in 2014, when official operation started, it lost VND1.085 trillion ($47.7 million). As of March 31, 2015, the project’s accumulated loss was VND1.73 trillion ($76 million).
The initial investment was $325 million, which was later adjusted to $359 million. The plant had suspended operations temporarily many times before it officially closed at the end of 2015.
The three bio-ethanol projects include Dung Quat bio-ethanol plant in Quang Ngai, Phu Tho bio-ethanol plant, and Binh Phuoc bio-ethanol plant. Each has an annual capacity of 100 million litres. The projects were financed with 30 per cent capital from shareholders and the rest borrowed from banks. According to the Government Inspectorate, all three have incurred losses and were teetering on the edge of not starting commercial operations. As of November 2014, the total investment in the three facilities was VND5.4 trillion ($237.4 million).
Newswire vietnamnet.vn quoted a source as saying that the Phu Tho ethanol project may be allowed to go bankrupt in order to prevent further damage as the contractor PetroVietnam Construction JSC (PVC) is currently in trouble (a group of officials have recently been prosecuted for corruption and “intentionally violating regulations on economic management, causing severe consequences”). Also the market is not picking up yet and the cost of production is high.
The Dung Quat project may soon receive aid from a foreign partner to resume production. The Binh Phuoc project currently has a foreign investor as the controlling shareholder so the government has to wait for this investor’s decision before taking matters to its hand.
Dinh La Thang was born in 1960 in Nam Dinh. Below are some of the positions he has held over the past 30-plus years.
1983-1988: held different accounting positions at a member company of Song Da Corporation, also a member of this company’s Party Committee
1989-1994: held different accounting positions at Song Da Corporation, positions in the Party Committee of Song Da Corporation
1995- March 2001: Secretary of the Song Da Corporation Party Committee, deputy general director of Song Da Corporation
April 2001-October 2003: member of the National Assembly, chairman of Song Da Corporation
November 2003-December 2005: deputy secretary of the Thua Thien-Hue Party Committee, member of the National Assembly
January 2006- December 2008: chairman of the board of members at PetroVietnam, member of the National Assembly
2011-2016: member of the National Assembly, Minister of Transport
February 2016 to now: Politburo member and Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee, member of the National Assembly