Vietnam arrests officials of state shipper Vinalines

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Vietnamese police Friday arrested three former officials of the Vietnam National Shipping Lines as the government launched an investigation into financial problems at the state shipper, local media reported.

Duong Chi Dung, former chaiman of the company, was arrested for violations of state regulations on economic management, news website VnExpress reported, citing a senior police officer. The other two officials were Mai Van Phuc, former general director, and Tran Huu Chieu, former deputy general director.

Dung is currently director of the Vietnam Maritime Administration. He took the position in February, after seven years of working at the state-owned shipping company, also known as Vinalines.

According to VnExpress, the arrest was made after state inspectors found many wrongdoings at the company during the  2007- 2010 period, including the buying of old ships and using them inefficiently.

Vinalines reported profits over the past few years, but doubts have been cast on such reports, and economists have called for a thorough audit of the company to make sure it has not been hiding losses. Several subsidiaries of the company continued to post huge losses in the last quarter, even after selling parts of their assets.

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This is the second high-profile investigation into a state-owed enterprise in two years. Shipbuilder Vinashin was on the verge of collapse when it was investigated in 2010. The company is now going through a restructuring process.

Five loss-making subsidiaries from Vinashin were transferred to Vinalines last year.

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