Vietnam’s top prosecutors filed bribery charges, on Monday, against a suspended judge after reviewing the results of a police investigation which alleged he took US$11,000 to keep an embezzler out of jail.
Nguyen Duy Hiep, 39, was detained on June 30 for allegedly accepting kickbacks that he never followed through on.
As a judge at the Thanh Liem District People’s Court in Ha Nam Province, Hiep offered Do Duc Tuan, a former official in charge of site clearance for public projects, a chance to get off with a suspended sentence in exchange for the cash.
Hiep was supposed to be officially promoted to the court’s presiding judge the day after his arrest.
Tuan’s family exposed Hiep after he sentenced the disgraced official to 12 years in jail on June 12 but refused to fully refund the money he had demanded from his family.
In response, Tuan's family provided police with recordings of Hiep's illicit negotiations and instructions.
By the time he was arrested, Hiep had returned VND185 million to his court; the money was then handed over to investigators.
The family said Hiep claimed he spent the rest bribing officials at district and provincial agencies.
Tuan was tasked with compensating residents displaced by the construction of a district road in 2008 and was convicted of colluding with other members of his government team to inflate construction costs and steal nearly VND25 million ($1,170) from the district budget.
Giving and taking bribes is a crime under Vietnamese law, but the practice has become a common solution to almost every problem--from avoiding red tape, boosting high school test scores to securing million-dollar public contracts.
Now, it appears, it's come to kickbacks in court.
Two district judges in the northern province of Thanh Hoa were suspended last month after an extortion suspect announced that he’d bribed them to reduce his sentence.