Vietnam. Debate rages over Sabeco nepotism accusations

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The head of Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) Nguyen Dinh Cung has called the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) “shameless” after it claimed the promotion of former minister Vu Huy Hoang’s son had followed all procedures.

The Vietnam Association of Financial Investors (VAFI) previously sent a letter to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, urging the ministry to inspect the appointment of Hoang’s son, Vu Quang Hai, as deputy CEO of Sabeco in early 2015. Before the promotion Hai was the general director of PetroVietnam Finance Investment JSC. Between 2011 and 2012, under Hai’s management, the company racked-up losses of VND220 billion (USD10 million) compared to registered capital of USD13.5 million.

Nguyen Hoang Hai, deputy head of VAFI said they decided to file complaints with the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Government Inspectorate.

Cung said he had seen the written response from MoIT to VAFI on newspaper which said that even though there might have been mistakes during the process, the promotions at Sabeco and PetroVietnam had followed all procedures and there were no legal grounds to hold Hai responsible for causing losses at PetroVietnam.

Cung said the ministry was trying to cover up evident problems in the process. “When I read the response, I can only say that it’s shameless. I have nothing to say,” he said.

According to Cung, Sabeco have been equitised so the ministry could only nominate people onto the board of directors, the board would then have to vote on other positions such as directors or vice directors. It was a violation if Sabeco ‘begged’ the ministry to promote someone as deputy CEO.

Secondly, he said that even though the private-sector investors only had a 20% stake, it’s was still their money and they should have a voice in the company.

“This is not a government office, the employees don’t have to be state officials,” he said. “It’s wrong to use the excuse that Sabeco wanted Hai to be their deputy CEO. You must choose the best candidates with clear criteria and do it transparently.”

Cung had previously also vocally criticised Sabeco when it claimed the promotion followed all procedures.

“Stop talking about following procedures. Procedures are a tool, not a goal. Procedures are only used to find the best leaders or employees, but if we can’t find the best ones then we must re-check the procedures. Hai should resign from Sabeco. It’s simply a matter of self-respect,” he said.