Vietnam's Government Inspectorate kicked off an extensive 70-day audit of the state-owned firm Vietnam Railways, which has been implicated in a bribery scandal involving a Japanese consulting firm.
The audit of Vietnam Railways and its subsidiaries began on October 1, inspectors said.
Inspectors say they will examine the management and use of funds and assets at the state-owned giant between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2013.
On Wednesday, the former president of a Japanese consulting firm and two others connected with his company pleaded guilty to bribing officials in Vietnam and two other countries, Kyodo News reported.
Tamio Kakinuma, 65, former executive Tatsuro Wada, 67, and adviser, Koji Ikeda, 58, pleaded guilty, as did Tokyo-based Japan Transportation Consultants Inc. (as a company) during the first hearing of their trial at the Tokyo District Court, the report said.
The defendants said they handed some 70 million yen (about US$640,000) to three senior officials at Vietnam Railways between 2009 and 2014 to win approval for a Japanese-funded urban railway project in Hanoi, the report quoted prosecutors as saying.
Vietnamese police have detained six Vietnam Railways officials, including a deputy general director, to investigate their role in the bribery scandal.
According to the Japanese indictment, the defendants also paid some 20 million yen worth of rebates to five officials at Indonesia's transportation ministry between 2010 and 2013, and the equivalent of 54 million yen to three officials at Uzbekistan's state-run railway firm between 2012 and 2013.
Prosecutors said many of the local officials had solicited the bribes, according to Kyodo News.
The scandal prompted the Japanese government to suspend new official development assistance (ODA) funding to Vietnam in early June.
Tokyo resumed all aid in late July on the condition that Vietnam commit to investigating all ODA projects involving JTC and Vietnam Railways and take specific measures to stop future graft.