Ho Chi Minh City officials have admitted that local corruption remains “complicated” and is draining millions of dollars from the city’s budget.
“Although the city has implemented many anti-corruption policies such as reforming administrative procedures and inspecting the use of state assets, the problem is still complicated,” Nguyen The Thong, deputy head of the city’s Steering Committee for Corruption Fight, said at a meeting Thursday, news website VnExpress reported.
Inspections into the city’s economic and social operations found that more than VND215 billion (US$10.32 million) in funds and nearly 120,000 square meters of public land had been misused. Around one fifth of the money and half of the land have been recovered.
At least six people have been placed under investigation for corruption, according to the report.
Furthermore, the city has dismissed an official who was in charge of land surveys and construction in downtown areas of District 1, and many commune and ward leaders in outlying Binh Chanh and Binh Tan Districts, for corruption.
City officials also remarked on major corruption cases brought to court last year, including one in which the former chief accountant of a district treasury, Tran Minh Long, was sentenced to death for embezzling more than VND44 billion ($2.1 million) that he used to bet on football games.
Huynh Minh Duc, a traffic police officer, was sentenced to five years in jail for receiving VND3 million ($143) from the owner of a tractor-trailer involved in an accident, in addition to VND15 million ($718) from Nguyen Van Khuong to retrieve a motorbike seized from an illegal street racer.
Duc’s case made headlines after being reported by Khuong, a journalist for the local newspaper Tuoi Tre who is also known by his pseudonym Hoang Khuong.
Khuong was later sentenced to four years in jail for bribery, although he said his actions were merely part of the undercover journalistic investigation assigned to him by Tuoi Tre.
Reports at the meeting said the city punished 101 police officers for taking bribes last year, with one being removed from the force, and nine others removed from their posts.
But they said there were more than 2,400 who refused bribes worth a total of nearly VND400 million ($19,200).
The Ministry of Public Security on Friday also honored four police officers in Hanoi for turning down VND97 million ($4,660) in bribes last year, which had been offered by two men who were found carrying guns on the street.
Each officer was awarded VND1 million for their “examples of integrity,” the ministry said.
A poll by Vietnam state inspectors and the World Bank published last November found that traffic police were the most corrupt institution in Vietnam, a result prompting Hanoi police to assigning female officers to the city’s busiest intersections as way to improve the image of the sector.
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