Ex-official faces bribery charge in Japanese graft case

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Vietnamese investigators are seeking bribery charges against a former senior official in a scandalous graft case related to a Japanese ODA-funded project, an official said Thursday.

Huynh Ngoc Si, former head of the East-West Highway in Ho Chi Minh City, accepted US$262,000 in bribes from Tokyo-based Pacific Consultants International (PCI) in 2003 to help the company win contracts under the project, according to Pham Quy Ngo, chief of the Ministry of Public Security's Police General Department.

Vietnam began looking into the case in December, 2008 after four former PCI executives said they gave Si $2.6 million in bribes in a quid pro quo bid to secure contracts.

 

According to Tuoi Tre newspaper, Si will face further charges, once the Ministry of Public Security concluded on further allegations from former PCI executives' that they bribed him on six additional occaisions--apart from the alleged $262,000.

 

Investigators in Vietnam are currently awaiting more information from Japanese authorities with whom they are cooperating on the case, it said.

Meanwhile, Vietnam's investigators sought the charge against Si, because the deadline for the investigation has ended, according to the news source.

The accusations were made on November 11, 2008 as PCI leaders stood trial in Tokyo for violations of the Unfair Competition Prevention Law, which prohibits the bribing of foreign government officials.

Japan later prosecuted the officials for offering $820,000 in bribes.

The scandal led Tokyo to temporarily suspend official development assistance (ODA) loans to Vietnam in December the same year. They resumed in February.

However, it was only after 3,050 pages of materials received from the Japanese agency were translated that authorities placed Si under investigation in January.

Si, former vice director of HCMC Department of Transport is now serving six-year jail term for "abuse of power" for illegally leasing office space to PCI from August 2001 and November 2002 and pocketing VND1.2 billion (current $62,959) from the agreement.

In September 2009, Si was sentanced to three years in jail.

Following an appeal heard by the HCMC Supreme People's Court in March, Si's sentence was doubled.

Si's subordinate Le Qua was sentenced to five years in prison on the same charges.

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