Vietnamese tycoon who gave Oxford’s Linacre College £155m has close links to the country’s brutal Communist regime

  • Linacre College set to become Theo College after £155 million donation
  • Madam Thao gave a donation and has close ties with the Vietnamese government 
  • The government also holds close ties with Husband Nguyen Thah  
  • Linacre College is proud to be a college that allows freedom of speech and expression 

An Oxford college is adopting the name of a Vietnamese tycoon who has strong links with Vietnam’s Communist government.

Linacre College is set to become Thao College after Madam Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, Vietnam’s first self-made female billionaire, made a ‘transformative donation’ of £155 million.

The deal sparked controversy amid claims that the college – described as ‘one of the greenest’ in Oxford – is honouring a tycoon who founded the budget airline VietJet Air, and has been fined several times for using semi-naked stewardesses on flights.

Mail on Sunday has information that Madam Thao, her husband Nguyenthanh Hung and Madam Thao have strong ties with the Vietnamese government. The country is known for having one of the worst records in human rights.

Linacre College is set to become Thao College after Madam Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao (pictured), Vietnam's first self-made female billionaire, made a 'transformative donation' of £155 million

Linacre College is set to become Thao College after Madam Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao (pictured), Vietnam’s first self-made female billionaire, made a ‘transformative donation’ of £155 million

Linacre College was named after Thomas Linacre in 15th-century scholarship. It is proud of its dedication to freedom and insists that all students comply with a code.

Human Rights Watch (a non-governmental organization) says that ‘basic rights’, such as speech, opinion press freedom, association, religion, are being restricted under Vietnam’s regime. Rights activists, bloggers, however, face intimidation, harassment, physical assault and prison sentences.

VietJet Air’s parent company Sovico says on their website that they have ‘excellent relationships’ with Vietnam’s government, ministries, and localities. Earlier this year, it donated around £200,000 to the country’s Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, named after the brutal former Communist leader who led North Vietnam in its war against the US.

Cao Tien Dung (a top Communist official) was photographed Dr Hung at an event last March. Dr Hung also has been photographed with Xi Jinping (China’s dictator) and Nguyen Xuan Puc (Vietnam’s prime minister).

Husband Nguyen Thanh Hung (pictured) and Madam Thao have close links to the Communist Thai government

Madam Thao and Husband Nguyenthanh Hung (pictured), have strong ties to the Communist Thai government 

Madam Thao retains close links to the Kremlin after becoming one of Russia’s first female millionaires – at the age of 21 – by importing fax machines and latex rubber to Moscow. As a bright 17-year old student, she was sent by Communist officials in Vietnam to the USSR.

She was a member of technical staff in Vietnam and received diplomatic immunity. According to the records, she owned a Mercedes 500 Blue with a Diplomatic Number Plate.

Madam Thao married her husband in Moscow. According to one ex-business partner, the MoS: “I am very familiar with them.” The Vietnamese trade mission in Russia provided a lot support. The ex-associate said that the Vietnamese regime’s support was key to their success.

After a decade living in Moscow, the family moved to Vietnam. However, they maintained strong ties with Russia through Sovico, where their business empire helped build Astana’s new capital, which is now known as Nur-Sultan.

Dr Hung, an expert in cybernetics, was made an honorary consul for Kazakhstan – a country widely seen to have a deeply corrupt ruling class – in 2013. Linacre College and Sovico did not respond to our requests for comment last night.