Jailed ex-official gets another seven years

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The Hanoi People's Court handed down a seven-year jail term on Wednesday to Bui Tien Dung for abuse of power the latest in a spate of convictions against the former transport ministry official since 2007.

The jail term, announced on the last day of a one-week trial, is more lenient than the punishment proposed earlier by the municipal prosecutors' office for Dung, former chief of the Transport Ministry's Project Management Unit (PMU) 18. The prosecutors had called for a sentence of between 11 and 12 years.

Judge Le Thi Hop said the court agreed with prosecutors' decision to change charges proposed against Dung from embezzlement to abuse of power while performing public duties because the crime witness had died.

The court convicted Dung and his subordinates of siphoning VND3.4 billion (current US$165,330) in 26 bogus employee salaries from March 2003 to February 2006.

The employees were supposedly building the Bai Chay Bridge in the northern province of Quang Ninh a project funded by Japanese official development assistance.

With the latest verdict, the total jail term of Bui Tien Dung has amounted to 23 years. In the first verdict in 2007, Dung was sentenced to 13 years in jail for gambling and giving bribes.

Last August, he got three years for "intentionally violating state regulations on economic management that has resulted in serious consequences."

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At the Wednesday trial, seven of Dung's accomplices were jailed for between three and nine years on embezzlement charges.

Dung also instructed his subordinates to pay VND500 million to Do Kim Quy, PMU 18's ex-deputy head, as a retirement gift, the court said.

Quy was sentenced to two years on probation for receiving the illegal money.

The court said the damaged party was the Transport Ministry and ordered all defendants to return the misappropriated funds, despite earlier documents from the ministry and PMU 18 claiming they were not damaged in the scam.

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