Update: 19:37 | 13/12/2020
A former director of Hanoi’s Center for Disease Control will spend 10 years in jail for masterminding a coronavirus testing kit purchase scam.
The Hanoi People’s Court Saturday found Nguyen Nhat Cam, 57, guilty of committing "offenses against regulations of law on bidding that lead to serious consequences," causing a loss of VND5.4 billion ($233,483) to the state budget.
Nguyen Nhat Cam (2nd, L), former chief of Hanoi CDC, and his accomplices stand trial at a court in Hanoi, December 12, 2020.
Cam had been arrested in April pending investigations into the scam.
Seven other accomplices received jail terms of between three and 6.5 years while two others were given 36-month suspended sentences.
Five of the nine accomplices were senior officials at the Hanoi CDC while others were directors of companies involved in the case.
The court said the actions of Cam and his accomplices had put the society in danger, and affected the prestige of the Communist Party and the State at a time the country was making every effort to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, it also said that Cam, an associate professor and doctor with many achievements in his work, deserved some leniency.
According to the indictment, taking advantage of the complicated situation of the Covid-19 pandemic and Hanoi’s decision to increase funding to buy more machinery and medical supplies to test Covid-19 suspects, Cam colluded with his subordinates to raise the prices of medical machinery and equipment used for testing.
Starting February, they inflated the purchase price for a Covid-19 test kit utilizing the real-time polymerase chain reaction (real-time PCR) system by three times to VND7 billion, while it was imported from Germany for VND2.3 billion.
Cam was director of the Hanoi Center for Preventive Medicine for five years before taking the Hanoi CDC assignment in 2018.
The CDC is in charge of preventing outbreaks and infectious diseases in the capital. It has collaborated with local authorities to disinfect areas with potential coronavirus infections and in investigating new infections.
Vietnam’s strict quarantine and tracking measures has enabled the nation to quickly contain outbreaks of the novel coronavirus. So far, the nation has registered 1,395 cases with 35 deaths. Most of the active cases were imported while many of the deaths were of senior citizens with underlying conditions like diabetes and kidney failure.