efe-epaHo Chi Minh, Vietnam

Vietnamese authorities have opened an investigation into a former chairman of PetroVietnam, Phung Dinh Thuc, over financial losses suffered by the state-run energy company, the Ministry of Public Security said Wednesday.

The ministry said in a statement that Thuc deliberately violated economic regulations causing serious consequences in connection with the construction of the Thai Binh 2 thermal plant.

The Thai Binh 2 thermal plant, which will produce 1,200 megawatts, is a project valued at $1.6 billion that was awarded in 2012 to the consortium formed by Japan's Sojitz Corporation and the South Korean Daelim Group.

Thuc, born in 1954, was general director of PetroVietnam between 2008 and 2010 and chaired the board between 2011 and 2014 before retiring the same year.

In early December, authorities arrested on similar charges Thuc Dinh La Thang, former member of the Communist Party's central committee, for several irregularities detected during the time he presided over PetroVietnam between 2009 and 2011.

Another PetroVietnam executive accused of embezzlement and causing losses worth $150 million to the company, Trin Xuan Thanh, escaped the country but was detained in Germany where he allegedly had sought asylum.

German authorities in July accused the Vietnamese of kidnapping Thanh on German territory, to which Vietnam responded that Thanh had turn himself in voluntarily.

This year, Vietnam launched an unprecedented anti-corruption campaign, which imposes capital punishment for embezzlements of upwards of $22,000 and bribes higher than $13,200.