Former district head sentenced to 26 years in jail

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A court in Ho Chi Minh City Friday handed down a 26-year-jail term to the former head of Hoc Mon District for accepting VND1.4-billion (US$71,942) in bribes and abusing power to approve two infrastructure projects.


Nguyen Van Khoe was also found guilty of abusing his official capacity to influence others and appropriate property.


Previously prosecutors had said the former of Hoc Mon People's Committee may face the death sentence for the charges filed against him.


Khoe was convicted of receiving bribes from Tran Thi Ha, former director of Thanh Phat Company and her deputy Ha Van Hoa to approve a housing estate and an industrial zone in the district's Dong Thanh Commune in late 2002 and early 2003.


He also asked them for cash and gifts worth a total of $15,000 and VND780 million ($40,082) to bribe other officials to secure the approval, despite the fact that Thinh Phat didn't have the financial capability to build them, the trial heard.


Tran Van Te, former chairman of Dong Thanh People's Committee, was sentenced to 13 years in prison also for power abuse and receiving bribes.


Duong Minh Trung, former chief of Hoc Mon District Division of Planning and Investment, and Nguyen Van Do, another former official from Dong Thanh Commune, were given seven year imprisonment and three year suspended sentence respectively for abuse of power.


Dang Cong Danh, former director of Danh Khoa Company, meanwhile, received eight years for brokering bribes between Khoe and the husband and wife team of Ha and Hoa.


According to the court, with approval for the two projects, Ha and Hoa also secured loans of 3,000 taels (approximate 3,600 ounces) of gold and VND18 billion from the Cho Lon Branch of the Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank).


The scheme was a scam with the bank as the victim, the HCMC People's Court said, sentencing the married couple to life for "offering bribes" and "committing fraud to appropriate properties."


Ha and Hoa were ordered to pay back the loans as compensation to Agribank, but as the bank didn't claim the compensation at the trial, the gold and money would be transferred to the state budget, the court said.


The court also handed down a 12-year jail term to Tran Van Tuyen, former director of the bank's branch for violating lending regulations.


Tuyen's subordinate, Luu Thi Minh Hieu, was given 10 years on the same charges, while Nguyen Cong Dinh, a bank employee, was sentenced to seven years in prison for receiving bribes.

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