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Cheap engines used on steel-clad fishing boats built under gov’t program: police

Wednesday, March 13, 2019, 16:31 GMT+7
Cheap engines used on steel-clad fishing boats built under gov’t program: police
Steel-clad fishing vessels are grounded in Binh Dinh Province, Vietnam after their engines broke down in 2017. Photo: T.L. / Tuoi Tre

A supplier of boat engines for a government-backed program to provide Vietnamese fishermen with steel-clad vessels sold subpar motors using forged papers, resulting in the vessels breaking down shortly after being put to use, police investigators concluded in a report after a years-long probe.

Under a government decree that took effect in August 2014, Vietnamese fishermen are eligible to take out soft loans, paying only one to two percent a year in interest, to build steel-clad vessels to replace wooden boats in order to help fortify local fishing fleets.

Fishermen were allowed to borrow loans worth 70-95 percent of the estimated value of the ship to be built for a 11-year term.

Nam Trieu Co. Ltd., a shipbuilder owned by the Ministry of Public Security, was in 2015-2016 contracted to build 23 steel-clad fishing vessels for fishers in the provinces of Binh Dinh, Quang Ngai, Quang Ninh and Thanh Hoa, police investigation results show.

Between May 2015 and March 2016, Nam Trieu signed five contracts with Hoang Gia Phat Co. Ltd. to purchase 13 boat engines and 21 generators worth over VND43 billion (US$1.86 million).

Instead of following the contracts, Hoang Gia Phat bought cheaper engines and used forged papers to change their origin and specifications before selling them to Nam Trieu.

As a result, dozens of vessels installed with the poor-quality engines broke down shortly after being put into use in 2017.

Fishermen remove engines from a steel-clad vessel for repair. Photo: Thai Thinh / Tuoi Tre

Fishermen remove engines from a steel-clad vessel for repair. Photo: Thai Thinh / Tuoi Tre

Le Hoang Phong, director of Hoang Gia Phat, has been charged with “forging documents of agencies or organizations."

Phong also confessed to giving Dang Ngoc Oanh, general director of Nam Trieu, money on multiple occasions as “gifts” to his business partner, totaling nearly VND40 billion ($1.73 million).

However, police investigators said there is no evidence to suggest Oanh, a senior-ranked police officer, had received the sum from Phong.

They are convinced Phong only made the confession hoping that he would not face criminal prosecution if a senior policeman was dragged into the case.

Le Hoang Phong, director of Hoang Gia Phat One Member Co. Ltd., speaks at a meeting with the administration of Binh Dinh Province, Vietnam. Photo: nongnghiep.vn

Le Hoang Phong, director of Hoang Gia Phat One Member Co. Ltd., speaks at a meeting with the administration of Binh Dinh Province, Vietnam. Photo: nongnghiep.vn

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