Vietnam jails ex-health minister for 18 years
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Vietnam jails ex-health minister for 18 years

Court says Nguyen Thanh Long took bribes from firm that produced overpriced Covid test kits

A healthcare worker collects a sample from a traveller returning from Da Nang, at a Covid-19 testing centre in Hanoi in August 2020. (Photo: Reuters)
A healthcare worker collects a sample from a traveller returning from Da Nang, at a Covid-19 testing centre in Hanoi in August 2020. (Photo: Reuters)

HANOI - A court in Vietnam on Friday sentenced former health minister Nguyen Thanh Long to 18 years in prison after finding him guilty of taking bribes in a coronavirus test kit scandal, state media reported.

Long was accused of taking bribes worth $2.25 million in the scandal, in which a local company was accused of colluding with officials to commission a state-funded research unit to produce and overstate its prices of coronavirus test kits, Phap Luat Online newspaper said.

Reuters could not immediately reach Long’s lawyers for comment.

“I was wrong, I am sorry,” Long was quoted by the newspaper as saying at the trial.

The ruling comes as Vietnam intensifies its years-long anti-graft campaign that has seen hundreds of senior officials investigated for corruption, with many forced to quit.

Among the other high-profile figures forced out were former president and premier Nguyen Xuan Phuc and two deputy prime ministers.

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