Vietnam Arrests Another Senior Figure in Anti-Corruption Drive

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ASEAN Beat | Politics | Southeast Asia

Vietnam Arrests Another Senior Figure in Anti-Corruption Drive

The anti-graft campaign continues to intensify as the Communist Party begins preparations for its next Congress in early 2026.

Vietnam Arrests Another Senior Figure in Anti-Corruption Drive
Credit: Photo 189683194 © Nguyenkhanhvukhoa |

Vietnamese police have arrested Mai Tien Dung, a former minister and chairman of the Government Office, on suspicion of abuse of power, the latest high-ranking official to be ensnared by the country’s “blazing furnace” anti-corruption campaign.

In a press conference in Hanoi on Saturday, Lt. Gen. To An Xo, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Public Security said that the arrest came in connection with an investigation into an ecotourism project in Lam Dong, a province in the Central Highlands. The ministry’s investigation police agency has started legal proceedings against Dung for “abusing positions and powers while performing duties,” Xo said, according to the state-run newspaper Tuoi Tre.

Dung retired in April 2021 after serving for a term as chairman of the Government Office, a ministry-level agency that assists the prime minister and the Vietnamese government.

The 64-year-old has been in the sights of anti-graft investigators for some time. According to VnExpress, in January 2023, he was given a warning from the Secretariat of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) for his negligence regarding a bribery scandal linked to government-organized COVID-19 repatriation flights, which led to the arrest and imprisonment of dozens of officials and business executives. The Secretariat ruled that he violated both Party regulations and the law, and “allow[ed] certain people from the government office to give and take bribes,” in VnExpress’ paraphrase.

A year after that, he was reprimanded by the CPV Politburo, the Party’s top decision-making body, for “violations at the Ministry of Industry and Trade.” A formal reprimand is the least severe of the four punishments for misconduct by official members.

Dung is the latest top official to be ensnared in the CPV’s long-running anti-corruption campaign, which has etiolated the upper ranks of the Party and government.

Late last month, the country’s National Assembly accepted the resignation of its chair Vuong Dinh Hue, 67, shortly after his assistant was arrested on charges of abusing his position and power for personal gain. The resignation came a month after President Vo Van Thuong stepped down for “violations” that have “left a bad mark on the reputation of the Communist Party.” Just a year earlier, Thuong had taken over the presidency from Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who also resigned to take political responsibility for corruption scandals connected to Vietnam’s COVID-19 response, including the repatriation flights scandal.

The resignation of Hue and Thuong has led two of Vietnam’s “four pillars” – its top leadership positions – vacant, as well as five of the 18 seats on the Politburo, prompting an intensification of the personal and factional rivalries with which the anti-corruption campaign has long been entwined. These rivalries are already beginning to crest as the CPV approaches preparations for its next Party Congress in early 2026, which will see Nguyen Phu Trong, the Party’s general secretary and the driving force of the anti-corruption campaign step down.

Dung’s arrest suggests that despite its lengthening roll of prominent victims, the campaign has a long way to run yet, and will likely be a feature of Vietnamese politics up to – and perhaps beyond – the next Party Congress.