A section of Ho Chi Minh City's Vo Van Kiet Highway built with Japan's aid money. In 2011, Huynh Ngoc Si, former deputy director of Ho Chi Minh City's transport department, was sentenced to 20 years in jail for taking bribes of up to US$262,000 in 2003 from a Tokyo-based company in connection with the highway project.
The president of a Tokyo-based railway consultant firm has admitted that the firm paid kickbacks to foreign civil servants, including a Vietnamese official, in return for orders it received for official development assistance (ODA) projects, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported Friday.
“The amount of each payment was determined according to the value of the orders received. For example, a total of ¥80 million (US$782,000) was paid in return for an ODA project order worth ¥4.2 billion in Vietnam,” the newspaper quoted its source as saying.
According to informed sources, Tamio Kakinuma, the president of Japan Transportation Consultants, Inc. (JTC), admitted the allegations during questioning by the special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, the paper said. He reportedly signed a confession statement, it said.
It quoted its sources as saying that the prosecutors would launch a criminal probe into charges that kickbacks to foreign government employees were paid in breach of the Unfair Competition Prevention Law.
According to the sources, Kakinuma, 65, reportedly admitted during interrogation that JTC had paid money to civil servants in Vietnam, Indonesia and Uzbekistan, giving details such as when the firm had given them money and how much it had paid. The president is believed to have explained that he had not known about the situation.
The firm’s illegal payments were made on about 40 occasions from February 2008 to February this year, totaling ¥130 million, in relation to orders it received for five ODA projects.
In Indonesia, a total of ¥30 million was paid for three projects totaling about ¥2.9 billion. In Uzbekistan, the firm paid about ¥20 million in return for receiving an order worth about ¥700 million, Yomiuri Shimbun quoted its sources as saying.
The paper said further that the company is believed to have paid the kickbacks to five government employees, including a senior official of an office responsible for project administration at Vietnam Railways and an official in a position of responsibility at the Directorate General of Railways at the Indonesian Transportation Ministry.
In 2008, another senior Vietnamese official was also charged with taking bribes in 2003 from a Tokyo-based company in connection with a major infrastructure project -- a highway linking the east and west of Ho Chi Minh City-- too backed by Japanese ODA.
Huynh Ngoc Si, former deputy director of the HCMC's transport department and head of the project, was originally sentenced to life in prison in 2010. Si was convicted of receiving $262,000 from executives of Pacific Consultants International, or PCI, which was hired as consultants on the project.
An appeal court reduced his sentence to 20 years in 2011.
The case rocked the country, prompting Japan, then Vietnam's biggest donor country, suspended hundreds of millions of dollars in development loans in December 2008. Japan resumed the aid a year later.
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