Vietnam, Japan hold 1st meeting of anti-corruption committee

Thanh Nien News

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The first meeting of a joint committee on preventing corruption in Japanese-funded transport projects was held in Hanoi Thursday against the backdrop of the latest bribery scandal.
Vietnamese and Japanese representatives reviewed the available preventive measures, foreign ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh was quoted as saying by online newspaper Vietnamnet.
They also confirmed the two countries’ “highest determination” to stop corruption, he said.
When the next meeting of the committee will be held depends on the progress of investigations into bribery allegations made by an official from Japan Transportation Consultants, Inc. (JTC) against a Vietnamese railway official.
On March 21 the Japan News, an English news website run by Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, reported that JTC President Tamio Kakinuma had admitted to paying an official US$782,000 to win a bid in Vietnam for an ODA project worth $41 million.
The kickback was said to have been paid to a senior official in an office responsible for project administration at the state-owned Vietnam Railways.
In 2008 Vietnam had been rocked by a similar scandal when Huynh Ngoc Si, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City transport department and head of a major highway project, was charged with taking bribes from Tokyo-based Pacific Consultants International for the highway project, also funded by Japanese ODA.
In 2010 Si was sentenced to life for taking $262,000 in bribes, but it was reduced to 20 years by an appeal court.
The scandal caused Japan, Vietnam's biggest ODA donor, to suspend development loans worth hundreds of millions of dollars in December 2008.
But the aid resumed four months later.

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