Another suspect seized for abetting official's escape from Vietnam

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Vietnamese police have arrested another suspect for allegedly helping a maritime senior official flee Vietnam to escape charges in a multimillion dollar graft case, a source told Thanh Nien Thursday.

Pham Minh Tuan, 52, director of a transport company in the northern city of Hai Phong, has been accused of collaborating with others to abet the escape of Duong Chi Dung, former head of state-owned shipping giant Vinalines and the Transport Ministry's Vietnam Maritime Administration.

Dung, 56, fled Vietnam prior to the arrival of investigators at his house to arrest him on May 18 last year. He was apprehended by Interpol in another Southeast Asian country in September and extradited back to Vietnam.

He has been charged with "deliberately violating state economic regulations causing serious consequences" while at the helm of Vinalines between 2005 and February 2012.

Earlier, the ministry's inspectors also arrested six former officers in Hai Phong, also for allegedly having abetted Dung's escape.

Another former officer is now being hunted under the same allegation.

State inspectors found several irregularities and instances of fraud committed by Vinalines officials between 2007 and 2010, including in the purchase and inefficient use of old ships.

Several officials involved have already been arrested.

The firm incurred losses of more than VND2.6 trillion (US$24.7 million) in 2011 and VND1.2 trillion in 2010, but falsely reported profits.

A government report in June said the corporation was in a "very difficult" financial situation, with debts totaling more than VND43 trillion ($2 billion).

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