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Vietnam requests Japanese firm to name alleged bribe-takers

Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 12:02 GMT+7
Vietnam requests Japanese firm to name alleged bribe-takers
Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh (R) receives Japanese Ambassador Hiroshi Fukada in Hanoi on March 25, 2014

The Vietnamese Ministry of Transport has requested that Japan Transportation Consultants, Inc. (JTC) specify which Vietnamese railway official(s) allegedly received over US$780,000 in bribes the firm’s leader said it had paid in exchange for a Japanese ODA-funded project order worth more than $41 million. 

>> Vietnam suspends 3 more officials following $780k bribe report>> Vietnam vows to punish wrongdoers after $780k railway bribe allegation>> Vietnam suspends railway official after $780k bribe allegation >> Japan firm pays $780k to win $41m Vietnam ODA project: paper  The request was made in a document sent by the ministry to JTC on Tuesday, in which the Vietnamese agency asked the Japanese firm to provide detailed information on the allegation by a Japanese newspaper. The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported last week that Tamio Kakinuma, JTC’s president, admitted his company had paid ¥80 million ($782,640) in kickbacks in return for an ODA project order worth ¥4.2 billion ($41,088,600) in Vietnam. Specifically, the ministry requested JTC to name who might have taken that bribe.

Vietnam has suspended four railway officials and ordered them to write reports on their “responsibilities related to a project and JTC” following this allegation. One of the suspended officials confirmed to Tuoi Tre on Sunday that project is the one to construct the Yen Vien-Ngoc Hoi railway route in Hanoi, which uses Japanese ODA (official development assistance). The transport ministry also sent its statements to the Japanese Embassy in the capital and the Japan International Cooperation Agency on Tuesday, informing them of Vietnam’s determination to clarify the bribery allegation and what the ministry has done in dealing with it.Vietnam seeking list of alleged bribe-takers from Japan  Deputy Transport Minister Nguyen Ngoc Dong left Vietnam for Japan on Tuesday evening to directly work with the Tokyo Tax Authority, the special investigation team of the Tokyo prosecutor’s office, and Yomiuri Shimbun, the Japanese newspaper that reported the alleged bribery case on March 21. Yomiuri Shimbun also said in the article that JTC allegedly bribed civil servants in Vietnam, Indonesia, and Uzbekistan with ¥130 million ($1,271,790) from February 2008 to February of this year in order to receive orders for five Japanese ODA-funded projects in these countries. While talking with Tuoi Tre before heading for Japan, Deputy Minister Dong said his trip is aimed at collecting all the necessary information to help clarify the bribery allegation, and at coordinating with the Japanese side in handling it. “When we get any official information about the case, we will publicize it immediately,” the official said.  Dong added that Vietnam will also seek a list of the purported bribe-takers from Japan and hand it over to Vietnamese competent authorities right away. “We will immediately transfer such a list to concerned agencies when we get it,” the deputy minister said. When the list is unveiled, an inspection team will deal with them on a case-by-case basis, said Nguyen Van Huyen, chief of the Inspectorate under the transport ministry.Inspecting all JTC-related projects The Inspectorate chief also said his agency will inspect all projects related to JTC, under a decision of the Vietnamese Ministry of Transport. During the inspections that will kick off soon, inspectors will verify whether the bids for those projects were carried out in accordance with applicable regulations. Among the projects subject to inspection are the Yen Vien-Ngoc Hoi railway route and some others invested by the state-owned Vietnam Railways Corporation, with JTC’s involvement.Deputy PM meets Japanese ambassador Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh discussed the alleged graft with Japanese Ambassador Hiroshi Fukada on Tuesday in Hanoi.  The deputy PM told his guest that Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has ordered all relevant agencies to cooperate with their Japanese counterparts in handling this allegation. Minh affirmed that the Vietnamese government is determined to vigorously investigate it in accordance with Vietnam’s applicable laws. He asked the Japanese side to provide Vietnam with detailed information soon. Ambassador Fukada applauded the prompt and active responses from the Vietnamese government and concerned ministries right after the accusation was made. He also ensured close cooperation with Vietnam to crack the case.

JTC was established in 1958 when construction began on the Tokaido Shinkansen line. Its main shareholders are the two wholly owned subsidiaries of East Japan Railway Co. and Central Japan Railway Co.

The company, which specializes in railway construction design and ground surveying, began expanding overseas in the 1990s.

It has received 19 ODA projects totaling ¥25 billion since 2000, including orders it received while participating in joint ventures.

(Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper)

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