10 face charges in Vietnam state shipping giant corruption scam

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Duong Chi Dung, former head of the Vietnam National Shipping Lines, has been charged with embezzlement and deliberately violating state regulations / FILE PHOTO

Prosecutors Monday ratified charges against 10 people who allegedly caused a loss of over VND366 billion (US$17 million) to the state-owned Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines) by committing fraud.

The accused, most of them Vinalines executives and employees, have been charged with "deliberately violating state regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences" in the purchase of a used floating dock from abroad at an unreasonably high price in 2008.

Duong Chi Dung, former chairman, and three other former executives also faced charges of "embezzlement" for receiving $1.66 million in kickbacks in the transaction, according to the indictment approved by the Supreme People's Procuracy.

In June 2008 Vinalines bought the dock for a shipyard repair project in the southern region.

The dock, manufactured in Japan in 1965, was heavily damaged and unusable when it was offered by Russian-owned company Nakhodka for $2.3 million.

But Vinalines did not make a direct purchase, instead buying it through a Singaporean brokerage called AP for a whopping $9 million.

Dung approved a total of nearly $20 million for the dock though he and the others were aware of its condition, prosecutors said.

Dung, Mai Van Phuc, suspended director general of Vinalines, Tran Huu Chieu, suspended vice director general, and Tran Hai Son, suspended director of Vinalines Ship Repairing Ltd., Co. got $1.66 million in bribes for the deal, they said.

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The accused, including two customs officers in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa and an employee of the Vietnam Register, have to pay nearly VND339 billion in compensation for the loss, they said.

The Ministry of Transport is responsible for failing to monitor the company's operations, they said in the indictment.

The ministry's leaders need to investigate any possible involvement of ministry officials and punish wrongdoers, they said.

The Ministry of Public Security has sought assistance from other countries to find out about the possible involvement of foreign nationals and organizations in the scam.

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