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PetroVietnam chief arrested

PetroVietnam chief arrested
Vietnam's Ministry of Public Security officers arrested the former chairman of state-owned Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) Nguyen Xuan Son on Tuesday after he was sacked by the government earlier this week for abuse of power during his stint as ceo of a local bank.

The ex-chairman of PetroVietnam is accused of committing these wrongdoings when he was ceo of Hanoi-based Dai Duong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Ocean Bank) for about two years from 2008.

Vietnamense media said that Son, 53, has been charged with “negligence of responsibility, causing serious consequences,” and “abusing positions and powers to appropriate property,” according to the police.

On 19 July Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung dismissed Son as chairman of PetroVietnam's Board of Directors - a position he assumed in July 2014 - as recommended by the Minister for Industry and Trade and the Minister for Interior.

Before his removal, police had summoned Son for questioning many times over alleged illegal acts at Ocean Bank. During two years as ceo of Ocean Bank, Son directed his staff to collect a lending fee from customers who took out loans.

The collection of this fee was against the lending regulations of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), investigators said, adding that Ocean Bank and its branches earned an illegitimate income of dozens of billions of dong (VND1bn = $45,830) through the charge.

Son also ordered staff members to pay additional interest worth billions of dong on deposit accounts to boost Ocean Bank’s capital mobilisation from clients. Such payment of extra-interest was against the regulations of the SBV, according to investigators.  

Ocean Bank once had many large shareholders, including PetroVietnam, which invested VND800bn in the bank.

However, after Ha Van Tham, ex-chairman of Ocean Bank, was arrested on October 24, 2014, the bank’s operations went downhill, and the SBV had to buy the lender at zero cost. That means PetroVietnam had lost its entire stake at Ocean Bank, and Son was found to be involved in the loss.

He is also suspected of being involved in illegal acts uncovered in 2012 at Hanoi-based Global Petroleum Bank, which was later put under special control by the SBV, according to news website VietNamNet.

He began working in the oil and gas sector in 1984, in the Finance and Accounting Bureau under PetroVietnam. From 2003 to October 2006, he was vice general director of the PetroVietnam Finance Company before being promoted to the firm’s top boss in May 2007. In December 2008, Son was named ceo of Ocean Bank, and in November 2010, he was appointed vice general director of PetroVietnam, and then chairman of the group last year, according to Vietnam media.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has named Nguyen Quoc Khanh, PetroVietnam's ceo, as temporarily chairman to replace the post vacated by Son.