Death penalty for corruption ?

The former chairman of PetroVietnam is accused of embezzlement. Photo courtesy Getty

State prosecutors have called for the death penalty for the former chairman of the state oil company as the government’s anti-corruption drive gathers pace.

Nguyen Xuan Son is on trial for embezzlement and abuse of power to usurp assets during his time as chairman of PetroVietnam.

The case relates to the state company’s acquisition of a multi-million dollar stake in Ocean Bank in 2009, six years before it was written off and taken over by the central bank.

Prosecutors are also asking for life imprisonment for the founder of Ocean Group, Ho Van Tham.

Dozens of other former staff at the companies are also facing long prison terms on an array of corruption charges.

The Communist party General-Secretary, Nguyen Phu Trong, has said the anti-corruption campaign is turning into a movement as it focuses on alleged wrongdoing during the administration of the former prime minister, Nguyen Tan Dung.

The campaign has targeted many associates of Mr Dung, who lost out in a power struggle against ideological conservatives at the party congress early last year.

Reports that the former head of PetroVietnam’s construction arm, Trinh Xuan Thanh, had been cleared by the previous administration has fuelled suspicion of political motives.

The German government says Mr Thanh was abducted by Vietnamese agents in Berlin in July and taken back to Hanoi to face financial misconduct charges.

The Reuters news agency said it had seen a document sent by the former trade minister to Mr Dung in 2015 indicating that there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Mr Thanh.