HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Wednesday fired the deputy police minister, the highest ranking police official to be removed in a corruption crackdown in the Communist-ruled country, the government said.

In a move that has stunned Vietnamese society, authorities in Hanoi have arrested one of the country’s most powerful security officials, allegedly for helping a business tycoon and former intelligence agent escape abroad.

Bui Van Thanh, Deputy Minister of Public Security, was fired for “very serious violations”, Phuc said in a statement without elaborating. The decision took effect immediately.

Vietnamese authorities have arrested dozens of officials and business figures in a crackdown mixed with political intrigue in the one-party communist state.

The Communist party late last month stripped Thanh, 60, of all of his party credentials saying he violated regulations on state secrets and illegally issued documents on land management, the government said in a separate statement.

Thanh was also accused of illegally issuing a diplomatic passport to business tycoon Phan Van Anh Vu, who was sentenced to seven years in prison at a closed trial more than a week ago, convicted of deliberate disclosure of state secrets.

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