Corruption prevention and asset recovery discussed in Vietnam

By Thai Son, Thanh Nien News

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 Only 29.4 percent of the assets stolen by those who were caught and punished for corruption in Vietnam was recovered

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc delivers his remarks at the 13th and final Anti-corruption Dialogue in Hanoi on Nov. 26. Photo credit: Vietnam News Agency

Vietnamese and foreign experts discussed anti-corruption measures and asset recovery tactics at the 13th and final Anti-corruption Dialogue on Wednesday. 
The series of talks were jointly organized by the British Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam's Government Inspectorate and the Ministry of Justice
Nguyen Thanh Tu, deputy head of the Ministry of Justice’s International Law Department, said that between October 1, 2010 and April 30, 2013, the total cost of corruption exceeded VND17 trillion (US$795 million), of which only VND5 trillion ($233.8 million) was recovered.
More simply put, only 29.4 percent of the assets stolen by those who were caught and punished for corruption was recovered.
The government’s report on anti-corruption work in 2014 showed that, so far this year, inspectors have brought to light 54 corruption cases involving a total of VND68.5 billion ($3.2 million).
Of that money, VND46.9 billion (68.5 percent) was recovered. 
Tu said the authorities were unable to recover many of the misappropriated assets since many of the corrupt officials had transferred them abroad. 
Although the State Bank of Vietnam's anti-money laundering department forwarded information about suspicious transactions to relevant investigative agencies, so far none of those cases have been resolved, he said. 
In many instances, corrupt officials were charged with “intentionally violating State regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences,” rather than “corruption,” and so the assets were never recovered, according to Tu. 
Victoria Kwakwa, the World Bank's Country Director for Vietnam, warned that corruption and the flow of corrupt money from Vietnam to foreign countries will become more complicated as the country integrates more broadly and deeply into the regional and international economy. 
Experts that only three percent of transactions in Vietnam do not involve cash--a rate that's 80 percent in other countries--and recommended that the Vietnamese government minimize cash transactions and direct transactions between civil servants and people to reduce the risk of corruption. 
The UK's Ambassador to Vietnam, Giles Lever, said Vietnam has worked hard to introduce and apply “best practices” to its anti-money laundering and asset recovery operations with support from the international community
Despite progress in these and other areas, major challenges remain, he said.
Lever said Vietnam still needs to improve domestic coordination across organizations, and internationally with other jurisdictions, in order to effectively apply the rules and frameworks which already exist. 
In his remarks, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc stressed the Vietnamese government and the Party's commitment to continuing the fight against corruption. He also acknowledged the importance of the media, civil society groups, businesses and the full range of government and judicial agencies and welcomed their continued input. 
Although the recent meeting represented the final Anti-Corruption Dialogue, the work will be further incorporated into the agenda of the Vietnam Business Forum with a focus on promoting a clean business environment. 
Members of the business community participating in 12 Working Groups will continue to work toward incorporating them under the VBF Working Group on Transparency and Corporate Governance.

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