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Official under scrutiny over $17,800 in ‘support money’ from construction bid winner

Friday, September 04, 2015, 18:05 GMT+7
Official under scrutiny over $17,800 in ‘support money’ from construction bid winner
American dollar notes are displayed in this photo illustration.

Authorities in the southern province of Long An have ordered the verification of a case in which a health official received tens of thousands of U.S. dollars in “support money” from a construction bid winner last year without reporting it to his superiors. Do Huu Lam, chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, on Thursday said he has asked competent agencies to look into the case. The official in question is Le Thanh Liem, director of the Department of Health, who revealed at a recent meeting that he had received VND400 million ($17,800) from Do Huu Quan, a construction contractor, on December 21, 2014. Liem told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that Quan gave the amount to him at the director’s house after his company won a bid for ground leveling for a project to build Moc Hoa General Hospital in the province’s Kien Tuong Town. The director added that despite his refusal, Quan left the cash in his house. The official said he reported it the next day to inspectors at the health department and submitted the money to its finance division. The receipt issued by the division certified the cash to be “support money from Do Huu Quan.” The huge amount is now still kept by the division and is expected to be used as a resource for the operations of the health department, Phap Luat TP.HCM (Ho Chi Minh City Law) newspaper cited Liem as saying. It was not until Liem disclosed it at the said meeting that most competent agencies in Long An were kept informed of the “support money,” the newspaper reported. Based on Liem’s revelation, the provincial Party Committee secretary has requested the clarification of the case, the newspaper added.   A leader at the People’s Committee asserted that Liem did not report what had happened to higher authorities right after that, the paper said. That the health department has kept the cash is not in line with current regulations, the leader added.  “In principle, when officials receive a gift they are required to keep their agencies and superiors informed of it. It is not right to disclose it seven or eight months after that,” Phap Luat TP.HCM quoted Do Van Dung, head of the Long An Party Committee’s Commission for Internal Affairs, as saying. But Liem told the newspaper that he has registered to meet the Party Committee secretary many times to tell him about the cash but he has yet to meet him so far.  He also affirmed that his sending the amount to the health department is in accordance with Prime Ministerial Decision 64/2007 that provides regulations on the giving, reception and handover of gifts by state bodies and officials. News website Dan Tri on Friday said police officers have summoned a number of people involved, including Quan, for questioning.

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