The former general director of Vietnam Railways has spent several days being interrogated by police about US$782,000 in bribes allegedly paid by a Japanese contractor, his family said Sunday.
Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper cited a family member in Hanoi as saying that Nguyen Huu Bang has not been returned by the police for three days, even though they still haven't seen a warrant for his arrest.
The newspaper source said Bang was summoned with several other company officials to discuss matter.
Bang retired in 2012 after serving the longest stretch in company history as the general director and board chairman.
He occupied both positions from 2008-2009, a time when someone from the Tokyo-based Transportation Consultants (JTC) Inc. allegedly handed a Vietnam Railways executive cash to secure a $41 million public contract to build the Urban Railway No.1 in Hanoi, a project funded with Japanese official development assistance (ODA).
When contacted via telephone about the police summons, Vietnam Railways' former deputy general director Ngo Anh Bao answered: “I’m having a headache.”
Then he hung up.
An unidentified Vietnam Railways executive confirmed that "some officials" had been summoned by the police, without naming them.
“It's a normal step in a police investigation. Being summoned doesn’t mean they’re guilty,” the executive said.
Nguyen Dinh Trong, who manages public affairs in Bang’s neighborhood (Lang Thuong Ward, Dong Da District) said he has not been informed of Bang being summoned or arrested.
Trong said Bang was simple and friendly, “so few people knew he was a general director.”
Bang’s wife is a Hanoi police officer and the couple lived in harmony with their neighbors, he said.
Police launched their investigation in April after Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper broke the story about the bribes.
Six other company officials have since been arrested.
Deputy general director Tran Quoc Dong was arrested and charged with criminal negligence while five others (all senior officials) from the company’s Project Management Unit, were accused of abuse of power.
The Japanese story, published on March 20 said JTC also allegedly paid Indonesian and Uzbek officials some 20 million yen to secure ODA contracts.
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