Vietnam to tighten anti-graft measures

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A man sails a boat past a Vinalines' Song Gianh ship. The state-owned company's former chairman Duong Chi Dung is being hunted by police over embezzlement allegations. Photo: Reuters

An amendment to the existing Anti-Corruption Law is expected to improve transparency in the government with more binding regulations, most notably one which would require officials and civil servants to declare changes in their assets.

"The [proposed] amendment involves punishing violators who falsify assets or declare assets without legal origins," said Nguyen Van Kim, deputy director the Government Inspectorate's Legal Department.

Early this month, government inspectors released their findings on several governmental offices and state-owned companies and proposed that the state revoke more than VND1.5 trillion (US$72 million) in funds that have not been used properly.

The companies and offices that were inspected included Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines), the Education Ministry and Hanoi National University.

Do Gia Thu, director the Government Inspectorate's Legal Department, said the draft law will focus on preventive measures that would increase the accountability of civil servants.

According to the amendment, officials and civil servants would have to declare the origin of their assets if those assets increase by VND100 million ($4,800) or more. They would be subjected to disciplinary measures for concealing such an increase or failing to declare its legal origin.

Asset declarations must be announced or posted on the notice board at the office of the declarants within the first quarter of every year.

Governmental agencies would have to explain their administrative decisions or actions upon the request of any organization, entity or individual affected by their policies.

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Leaders of governmental offices, organizations and companies would have to suspend or appoint their subordinates to other posts before an inspection is launched if they suspect those employees of embezzling.

The draft that would amend the law also proposed improving protections for whistleblowers and their relatives.

Meanwhile, when reporting on corruption the media would have to supply evidence upon request by Party and State inspectors, investigators, prosecutors and state auditors, according to the draft.

In a recent conference to review the five years since the Anti-Corruption Law was implemented, the state inspectorate said there have been "positive changes."

However, the nation's corruption situation remains "very complicated," reported the Phap Luat & Xa Hoi (Law & Society) newspaper, published by the Hanoi Justice Department.

The Anti-Corruption Law has not been thoroughly implemented, nor has it been effective in identifying changes in the assets of involved people, it said.

A report released at the conference found 1,704 of 23,522 offices and firms inspected in the past five years had violated transparency regulations [stipulated by the Anti-Corruption Law].

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