Israel-Vietnam arms deal at risk after arrest warrant issued for Vietnamese broker
Vietnam’s Investigative Police Agency of the Ministry of Public Security announced its decision to prosecute and arrest Nguyen Thi Thanh Nhan, the predominant businesswoman, alongside seven others last Friday.
Nhan has been key in promoting and broking arms deals between Vietnam and Israel, the value of which has exceeded over $1 billion in the last ten years.
The businesswoman was formally charged with "violations of regulations on bidding" in relation to a hospital, according to Vietnamese media.
However, Israeli media Haaretz reported that “the real reason for her arrest was involvement in military deals," quoting an unnamed source.
The source "stressed" that one reason for the arrest was "power struggles" between Vietnam’s prime minister, the Communist party secretary-general, the public security minister and the president, the newspaper said.
Nhan, who has not been arrested yet because she is currently out of Vietnam, was once close to the prime minister. She is in Japan, according to Vietnamese media RFA.
Israel and Vietnam signed a confidentiality agreement in 2011 to bolster security ties, and over the past decade have agreed to a number of weapons sales.
The largest deal "on the table" is the sale of Israel’s "Ofek" spy satellites to the Vietnamese Defence Ministry, said Haaretz.
The deal is expected to earn around $550 million.
A French company is competing with Israel for the contract.