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Two ex-leaders of Vinalines face death penalty

Saturday, December 14, 2013, 08:59 GMT+7

The Hanoi People’s Procuracy on Friday proposed that Duong Chi Dung, the ex-chairman of Vinalines, and Mai Van Phuc, the former CEO of the State-owned corporation, be sentenced to death for their offenses in a serious corruption case in 2008. The proposal was made at the ongoing trial by the local People’s Court for the two men and their eight accomplices in the notorious scandal, in which they caused a loss of VND366 billion (US$17.26 million) and embezzled a total of $1.666 million. They have been charged with “intentionally violating state regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences,” and “embezzlement.” The prosecutor’s office also proposed sentences from 6 years to 30 years in jail for the other eight defendants.    According to the indictment, these defendants violated applicable regulations and acted against the Prime Minister by purchasing a used floating dock from abroad at a high price in 2008, causing a loss of VND366 billion (US$17.26 million).

After the scandal was uncovered and many officials involved were arrested, Dung fled from Vietnam in May 2012 with the support of several police officers. He has since been hunted internationally and was arrested in Cambodia on September 4, 2012.

According to the investigators, Vinalines officials had known that the floating dock was too old to meet import standards but still bought it for $9 million through a broker, the Singapore-based AP Co. Meanwhile, the owner of the old floating dock in Russia, Nakhodka Co, offered to sell it for only US$5 million. .

After the deal, AP transferred $1.666 million as a kickback to the accused officials through the bank account of the Phu Ha Co Ltd, whose director is Tran Thi Hai Ha, the younger sister of Tran Hai Son, former CEO of the Vinalines Shipyard Co Ltd.

Upon receiving the money, Son gave Dung and Phuc VND10 billion each. Son took VND6 billion himself and gave Ha VND2 billion, and Tran Huu Chieu, Vinalines former deputy CEO, VND340 million.

According to investigators, Ha was not charged with “embezzlement”, since she did not know her brother had taken advantage of her account to access the embezzled money. She later returned the money to the investigators.

The hearing continues today, December 14, and the court is expected to announce sentences to the defendants this afternoon.

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