The Ho Chi Minh City Police Department demoted four traffic police officers after a video of them taking “money-like objects” from drivers went viral on the internet in March.
Senior Lieutenant Tran Le Cong Thanh and lieutenant Nguyen Thanh An were demoted to second lieutenant, and Nguyen Chi Nam and Dinh Thanh Phuc was demoted from second lieutenant to sergeant major. All belong to the Hang Xanh Traffic Police Agency.
The city police agency, however, called the evidence insufficient to prove the officers had taken bribes.
The disciplinary measures taken against them were instead related to minor procedural violations caught on in the video recorded by a Nha Bao Va Cong Luan reporter.
The four officers were officially punished for: failing to salute the drivers they had pulled over, failing to display their official name tags in the mandated uniform location, pulling over more drivers than there were officers to address them and detaining the drivers for longer than permitted.
The reporter captured roughly 20 minutes of covert video footage of the policemen working the corner of Thu Duc District’s Pham Van Dong and Kha Van Can street.
The video was published under the tag “Hang Xanh traffic police taking money right out of drivers' wallets.”
Most of the drivers had been pulled over for failing to properly use their turn signals.
The reporter also said local residents were frustrated because the police in their area had often demanded bribes from drivers.
Cops take 'leaflets'
After the clip went online, the city police suspended the four officers for an investigation which confirmed the authenticity of the footage.
Investigators managed to contact some of the drivers featured in the video, including a man who appeared to hand two VND100,000 notes to Thanh, the head officer of the group, Tuoi Tre quoted an unnamed source as saying.
This man admitted that he asked the policemen to pay his fine on the spot and gave the officers VND200,000 without receiving any receipt or citation, the source said.
Although Thanh admitted the clip pretty clearly shows the exchange of “a money-like object,” the officer insists they were only promotional leaflet and that he let the driver go with a warning, Tuoi Tre reported.
Meanwhile, police couldn’t find the owner of the wallet Thanh was filmed rifling through, the paper reported
All four of the policemen involved rejected allegations that they had received bribes from drivers, although several drivers that spoke to the investigators confirmed they had taken bribes.
The scandalized officers submitted official citations that day, most of which were not issued to the people in the clip, Tuoi Tre reported.