Investigators seek extortion charges against ex-journalist

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Vietnamese investigators have asked the country's highest prosecutor's office, the People's Supreme Procuracy, to press charges against a former journalist for extorting money from two companies.


They say that last September, Phan Ha Binh, who was then deputy managing editor of the Hanoi-based Tien Phong newspaper, collected information to write about some projects implemented by the Saigon Investment Group's member companies.


Binh allegedly asked Nguyen Cam Phuong, chief representative of Saigon-Tan Ky Cement Joint-stock Company in Ho Chi Minh City, to pay him for not writing stories unfavorable to the company.


As Phuong refused his demand, Binh, 42, published three articles about the company.


Even after he published the articles, he continued to contact Phuong, saying that he would stop publishing more stories if she paid him VND200 million (US$9,711), and that he would write an article favorable to her company if she paid him another $3,000, investigators said.


After some negotiations, Phuong agreed to his demands, saying that she would pay him VND220 million ($10.682).


On October 13, the police acting on information provided by Phuong, caught Binh red-handed receiving money from her at a restaurant in HCMC.


Investigators say they found Binh had previously received $1,000 from HCMC-based Luong Tai Investment and Construction Corporation using the same scheme.


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