Former HCMC district head to stand trial

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A former high-ranking Hoc Mon District official, stands accused of accepting bribes in exchange for his approval of two infrastructure projects.

Nguyen Van Khoe will be tried from July 14-27, along with nine other defendants. The list includes Tran Thi Ha, former director of Thanh Phat Company and her deputy Ha Van Hoa.

The case began in 2002 when Hoa and Ha, a common-law husband and wife, registered a new company with a value of VND5 billion (US$261,985). In reality, the pair's company wasn't worth a billion, prosecutors say.

According to the charges, the pair went on to falsify documents - inflating the stated value of their company to VND50 billion.

Prosecutors say the two secured approval to build a residential neighborhood and an industrial zone in the district's Dong Thanh Commune in late 2002 and early 2003, despite the fact that they lacked the financial capability to build them.

The two then secured loans of nearly 3,600 ounces of gold and VND18 billion at the Cho Lon Branch of the Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development's (Agribank).

The indictment accuses Ha and Hoa of passing chairman Khoe kickbacks worth a total of $78,000. The indictment further alleges that the couple paid a total of VND800 million to various officials in Dong Thanh Commune and the Cho Lon bank branch.

Khoe was charged with "receiving bribes", "abuse of power" and "abusing official capacity to influence others and appropriate property." Ha and Hoa were charged with "offering bribes" and "committing fraud to appropriate property."

In December of last year, a trial of the case was deferred pending further investigation.

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