Ex-consultants plead guilty to bribing Vietnamese officials over Japanese-funded project

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A file photo shows a Vietnamese worker checking a railroad section. Photo: AFP A file photo shows a Vietnamese worker checking a railroad section. Photo: AFP

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The former president of a Japanese consulting firm and two others connected with the company have pleaded guilty to bribing officials in Vietnam and two other countries, Kyodo News reported on Wednesday.
Tamio Kakinuma, 65, former executive Tatsuro Wada, 67, and adviser, Koji Ikeda, 58, entered guilty pleas, as did Tokyo-based Japan Transportation Consultants Inc. as a company, at the first hearing of their trial at the Tokyo District Court, the report said.
The defendants handed some 70 million yen (about $640,000) to three senior officials of Vietnam's state-run firm Vietnam Railways between 2009 and 2014 to win favor for a Japanese-funded urban railway project in Hanoi, the report quoted prosecutors as saying.
Vietnamese police have detained six officials of Vietnam Railways, including a deputy general director, to investigate their role in the bribery scandal.
According to the indictment, the defendants also gave some 20 million yen worth of rebates to five officials of Indonesia's transportation ministry between 2010 and 2013, and some 54 million yen worth to three officials of Uzbekistan's state-run railway firm between 2012 and 2013.
Prosecutors said the consultancy was solicited for bribes by local officials, according to Kyodo News.
The scandal prompted the Japanese government to suspend new official development assistance (ODA) funding to Vietnam in early June.
Tokyo resumed all aid in late July on the condition that Vietnam commit to investigating all ODA projects involving JTC and Vietnam Railways and pledge specific measures to stop future graft.

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