Former HCMC district leader to stand trial in bank swindle case

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The Ho Chi Minh City prosecutor's office will prosecute a former district People's Committee chairman and nine others for swindling VND1 8 billion and 3,000 taels of gold (now over US$5 million) from a bank.

The decision to prosecute the officials comes after their trial last year was deferred citing the need for more investigation.

Nguyen Van Khoe, ex-chairman of Hoc Mon People's Committee, the local government, is accused of instructing his subordinates to fake documents that the local Thanh Phat Company used to obtain loans from the Cho Lon Branch of the Bank for Agriculture and Rural Develop-ment, the Prosecutor's Office said.

The documents were used as proof of the company's ability to build a residential area and an industrial zone in the district's Dong Thanh Commune in late 2002 and early 2003, despite the fact that it lacked the financial capability to do so.

In return, Khoe took VND1.4 billion ($73,356) in bribes from the company's director Tran Thi Ha and her husband Ha Van Hoa, according to documents forwarded to the HCMC People's Court.

The former official is also accused of receiving another $5,000 and VND50 million ($2,619) from the husband and wife against promises he would "influence" leaders of the HCMC Department of Planning and Architecture toward approving the company's projects.

Khoe, who was nabbed in November 2007 when he was still in office, appropriated the money, inspectors said.

Khoe is charged with "accepting bribes", "abuse of power", and "capitalizing on influence for personal gain"

Ha and Hoa, meanwhile, would be indicted for "swindling" and "offering bribes."

Other defendants, including Tran Van Te, former People's Committee chairman of Dong Thanh Commune, and two senior officials at Agribank's Cho Lon Branch, would also stand trial on the same charges together with "brokering and taking bribes," and "breaching loan regulations," prosecutors said.

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