Ex-official tried for accepting bribes from Japanese firm

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A former vice director of Ho Chi Minh City's Department of Transport stood trial Friday for accepting US$262,000 in bribes from leaders of a Japanese company while overseeing a major project in 2003.


If convicted, Huynh Ngoc Si, who was assigned to be in charge of the East-West Highway Project in 2000, may face the death sentence.


According to the indictment, in January 2001, the project's management board invited five companies, including the Tokyo-based Pacific Consultants International (PCI), to bid on the project, which carried an investment of over 14 trillion (US$718.5 million).


PCI's officials bribed Si in an effort to win a consulting and supervisory role in the project, according to prosecutors in both Japan and Vietnam.


Prosecutors said after several meetings, PCI agreed to pay Si 11 percent, or $1.7 million, of a supervision contract, and 10 percent, or $900,000, of a consulting contract.


On November 11, 2009 while standing trial in Tokyo, PCI leaders testified that they had bribed Si on six additional occasions. Japan prosecuted the officials for offering $820,000 in bribes.


However, Si was standing trial at home only for the $262,000 taken in bribes, because the deadline for initial investigations had passed, prosecutors said, adding that other allegations were being investigated further.


Si, who is currently serving a six-year jail term for "abuse of power" handed down to him in March, has denied all allegations.

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