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February 15, 2024

Vietnam's Ongoing Anti-Corruption Campaign

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February 15, 2024

The Government of Vietnam has made significant strides in combating corruption over the past decade, notably through its recent anti-corruption campaign, the most comprehensive effort in the history of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV). The campaign has resulted in the unprecedented resignations of high-ranking officials and Politburo members, including the state president and two deputy prime ministers in early 2023, and most recently Chairman Tran Tuan Anh of the Central Party Committee on Economic Affairs (“CPCEA”) in January 2024. 
These actions have helped raise Vietnam’s Corruption Perceptions Index score to 41 in 2023 from only 2.6 points in 2009. Nevertheless, the campaign has also resulted in some adverse outcomes, including bureaucratic delays in government decision-making and disruptions in essential services as high-ranking officials are now hesitant to approve important documents due to the associated potential risks.
Vietnam's Anti-Corruption Results in 2023
In its 25th session held in Hanoi on February 1st, 2024, the Party’s Central Steering Committee for Prevention and Control of Corruption and Negative Phenomena (‘Steering Committee”) disclosed the outcomes of Vietnam's 2023 anti-corruption campaign. In 2023, disciplinary measures were enforced against 606 Party organizations and 24,162 Party members across all levels, marking a 12% increase from 2022. Notably, among those disciplined were 19 officials from the Politburo and the Secretariat. Additionally, disciplinary actions were taken against 105 officials under the Party Central Committee's jurisdiction, including 22 current and former members. Two-third of the disciplined Party members were penalized for misconduct during their previous terms.
In 2023, legal proceedings were initiated with 4,523 cases involving 9,373 defendants nationwide, marking a 46% increase in cases related to corruption, economic crimes, and abuse of power compared to 2022. Notably, the Steering Committee oversaw 13 new cases involving 54 defendants. Assets worth over 234 trillion VND (equivalent to 9.5 billion USD) were confiscated, sealed, and reclaimed. Vietnam's anti-corruption campaign will continue to be a priority in 2024, signaling a potential expansion of investigations. At the meeting, the Steering Committee decided to include two cases in the committee’s watch list for 2024 and provided direction for their handling. The first involves violations of regulations on research, exploration, and resource exploitation, accounting irregularities, and smuggling at Thai Duong Group JSCVietnam Rare Earth JSC, and related units. The second investigation pertains to abuse of positions and power during official duties at the Ministry of Industry and Trade and in various localities below.
Corruption Cases Related to Ministry of Industry and Trade
Investigations into Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) violations have led to the resignation of Tran Tuan Anh, a Politburo member and Chairman of the Central Party Committee on Economic Affairs (CPCEA). Born in 1964, he is the son of Vietnam’s 5th President Tran Duc Luong. With solid foundational training, he was entrusted by the Party Central Committee and Politburo to hold several key leadership roles, including Secretary of the Party Committee and Minister of MOIT from 2016 to 2021, followed by Chairman of CPCEA. He was also an experienced diplomat, having previously served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as Consul General in San Francisco. However, bearing the political responsibility as the leader when numerous violations occurred at the MOIT, which have resulted in its officials being punished with some facing criminal prosecution, Tran Tuan Anh submitted his resignation and was dismissed from all his posts, including Politburo member, member of the Party Central Committee, Chairman of CPCEA, and delegate to the 2nd National Assembly on February 5, 2024.
Prior to Anh’s resignation, on January 27, the Politburo reprimanded two high-level officials including former Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung and former Chairman of the Office of the Government Mai Tien Dung due to negligence in management that led to serious violations in MOIT during their tenure. Former MOIT Deputy Ministers Hoang Quoc Vuong and Do Thang Hai, who were arrested for their direct involvement in separate corruption cases related to MOIT, were both expelled from the Party. 
Hoang Quoc Vuong was arrested a day after retiring as Chairman of PVN due to his direct involvements in violations in the implementation of Power Development Plan VII (PDP7) and the preferential price incentive mechanism (FIT) for solar power. He was held responsible for shortcomings and violations in advisory and policy-making processes for solar and wind power project development. Specifically, between 2016 and 2020, MOIT approved 154 solar power projects totaling 13,837 MW without legal or planning basis, leading to grid imbalance and challenges in system management. Additionally, large-capacity systems (approximately 1 MW) on agricultural and forestry land were approved, violating land use plans while still benefiting from FIT incentives. In connection with this case, there are six other detainees from the Ministry facing similar charges, including officers from important departments such as Electricity Regulatory Authority, Licensing and Public Relations Division, Electricity Purchase Division.
Do Thang Hai was accused of allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for facilitating licenses for the Xuyen Viet Oil Transport and Trading Co., despite the company failing to meet numerous requirements and being involved in various business and tax violations. Previously, Le Duy Minh, Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Finance, and Le Duc Tho, former Secretary of the Ben Tre Provincial Party Committee, were also arrested and detained for investigation related to this case. Both cases involved numerous officers from both MOIT, provincial agencies, and private sectors. Many department and agency leaders within MOIT were dismissed from their positions. The investigation is anticipated to continue and expand in 2024.

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