Six railway officials on bribery charges
VietNamNet Bridge – The Supreme People's Procuracy of Viet Nam has started prosecution procedures against six officials of Viet Nam Railways for "abusing power while on duty".
The officials reportedly received millions of dollars from a Tokyo-based railway consulting firm in 2009.
The defendants include Tran Quoc Dong, 51, former deputy general director of the corporation and director of the unit; Pham Hai Bang, 46, former deputy director of the unit; Pham Quang Duy, 40, former deputy director of the unit; Nguyen Nam Thai, 38, head of project 3 No. 3 under the unit; and Tran Van Luc, 56, former director of the unit; as well as Nguyen Van Hieu, 52, former director of the unit.
The transport ministry finished its investigation into allegations published by a Japanese newspaper in March 2014, saying that a Tokyo-based railway consulting firm had admitted to paying JPY80 million (about US$780,000) to win a $41 million railway contract in Viet Nam funded by the Japanese Government's official development assistance (ODA) programme.
While the police have identified the project as Ha Noi City Urban Railway Construction Project (Line 1), the Tokyo-based railway consulting firm has been identified as Japan Transportation Consultants Inc. (JTC).
According to investigations, in September 2009, Pham Hai Bang, head of the project, mentioned to JTC that there were financial difficulties in implementing the project; so, JTC provided funds to help tackle those difficulties. Between September 2009 and February 2014, following Bang's order, Duy and Thai received VND11 billion ($504,000) support fund from JTC. The money was divided into three parts: Bang kept VND4.8 billion ($220,000), Thai took VND3.4 billion ($156,000), while Duy's share was VND2.8 billion ($128,000).
The three officials admitted that they spent the money on entertaining guests and organising summer vacations for their unit. However, no bills were found to prove these activities.
Bang said that he had reported to Luc, Dong, and Hieu as and when the money was spent.
Bang confessed to the police that he gave VND30 million ($1,300) to Dong, VND100 million ($4,500) to Luc, and VND50 million ($2,300) to Hieu during the Tet holidays of 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2014. The money was also drawn from the support fund provided by JTC.
After his arrest, Bang voluntarily returned VND970 million ($44,400) and $7,000, as well as two savings books worth VND900 million ($41,200) to "remedy" the consequences. The scandal prompted the Japanese Government to suspend an ODA funding to Viet Nam in June 2014.
However, the country resumed its financial assistance in July on condition Viet Nam investigate all ODA projects involving JTC and Viet Nam Railways and pledge specific measures to curb such corrupt practices in the future.