HCMC district head charged with accepting bribes

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Ho Chi Minh City prosecuters on Monday charged a former district head with accepting bribes in a massive development scam.

Nguyen Van Khoe, former chairman of Hoc Mon District People's Committee, were charged along with nine other officials involved in the land corruption case.

Khoe was charged with accepting more than US$124,000 (in cash and gifts) from Tran Thi Ha, former director of Thanh Phat Company and Ha Van Hoa, her husband and deputy director of the company, to approve a housing estate and an industrial park in Dong Thanh Commune in late 2002 and early 2003.

According to the indictment, Ha and Hoa leveraged the project approval to secure loans of 3,000 taels (112,500 grams) of gold and VND18 billion from the Cho Lon branch of the Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank).

They then used the money to pay for site clearance, interest and taxes and pocketed the remaining VND10.5 billion.

They prosecutors say the couple bribed Khoe and nine other officials, including Hoc Mon District and Dong Thanh Commune officials and Cho Lon Agribank officers, to ensure they wouldn't be caught.

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The case went public in early 2007 when police arrested and charged Ha and Hoa.

In August 2010, the HCMC People's Court sentenced Khoe to 26 years in prison. Ha and Hoa recieved life sentences.

Last June, the Supreme People's Court in HCMC overturned the verdict on appeal and ordered a fresh investigation into the case.

The court struck down the previous verdict citing procedural violations by the municpal court to identify the specific crimes of the accused.

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