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Ex-leaders of Vinalines get death in $19 mln corruption case

Monday, December 16, 2013, 18:40 GMT+7
Ex-leaders of Vinalines get death in $19 mln corruption case
Duong Chi Dung (C) is seen at the trial in Hanoi on November 16, 2013

After 4 days of hearing, the Hanoi People’s Court this afternoon sentenced Duong Chi Dung, the former chairman of Vinalines, and Mai Van Phuc, the ex-CEO of the State-owned Corporation, to death for their offenses in a serious corruption case in 2008.

Along with  Dung and Phuc, eight other defendants received sentences from four to 22 years in prison for their wrongdoings in the scandal that occured at the Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines) five years ago.

Both Dung, who was also the former head of Vietnam Maritime Administration, and Phuc, who was also the ex-head of the Transport Department under the Transport Ministry, were charged with “intentionally violating state regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences,” and “embezzlement.”

According to the indictment, on June 27, 2007, Duong Chi Dung, who was the corporation’s new chairman at that time, signed a decision to approve the plan to set up a large ship repair plant in southern Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province without waiting for the directive from the Prime Minister.

In late 2007, Dung approved the plan to purchase an old 83M floating dock from a Russian company, Nakhodka, citing the reason that the dock would serve the operation of the plant.

The dock, which was built in 1965, was later bought for as much as US$9 million through a Singaporean broker, AP Company. Meanwhile, the dock's owner offered to sell the facility for less than $5 million.

From March 17 to June 13, 2008, Vinalines made two bank transfers totaling $9 million to AP’s account at the Singapore-based United Overseas Bank (UOB).

Such a deal caused a loss of VND366 billion (now US$17.26 million) to the State budget.

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.

At today's hearing, the court ordered Dung and Phuc paid VND110 billion ($5.19 million) each to the State budget. The amount includes VND10 billion that was embezzled by each of the men and VND100 billion as compensation to the State.

Meanwhile, the eight other defendants must pay a total of VND145.34 billion to the State budget.

As previously reported, 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, including his younger brother, former colonel Duong Tu Trong, who at that time was deputy director of Hai Phong City Police. Dung was hunted internationally and was arrested in Cambodia on September 4, 2012 and was later extradited to Vietnam.

List of sentenced defendants

Besides Duong Chi Dung and Mai Van Phuc, the other eight defendants and their sentences are as follows: 1. Tran Hai Son, former CEO of Vinalines Shipyard Co Ltd: 22 years 2. Tran Huu Chieu, former Vinalines deputy CEO: 19 years 3. Mai Van Khang, former deputy CEO of Vien Duong Vinashin Co: 7 years 4. Bui Thi Bich Loan, former chief accountant of Vinalines: 4 years 5. Le Van Duong, registry official at Vietnam Registry: 7 years 6. Huynh Huu Duc, former deputy head of the Van Phong Customs Agency in Khanh Hoa Province: 8 years 7. Le Van Lung, customs officer at Van Phong Customs Agency: 8 years 8. Le Ngoc Trien, customs officer at Van Phong Customs Agency: 8 years

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