Mekong Delta officials receive one year max for abetting sand theft

By Thanh Dung, Thanh Nien News

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Dong Thap province officials stand behind bars July 7, 2014 with people they allowed to excavate sand in the area illegally. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre Dong Thap province officials stand behind bars July 7, 2014 with people they allowed to excavate sand in the area illegally. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre

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Two former Party leaders and two government officials from a single Mekong Delta district were sentenced to jail on July 7 for authorizing illegal sand dredging.
The four government officials were convicted of allowing illegal sand dredging in Dong Thap Province and sentenced to up to one year in jail while the excavators received between one and eight months.
Nguyen Hong Lam, former Party secretary of Hong Ngu District, Dong Thap Province, was handed the one-year term for abuse of power.
He was accused of authorizing the activity without seeking a license from the chairman of the province. The activity allegedly earned the excavators more than VND12 billion (US$564,400).
His deputy, Ngo Xuan Canh, was sentenced to six months in jail and Nguyen Quoc Hung, former chairman of Hong Ngu, received four months for the same charge.
The officials said they sought no kickbacks but wanted to raise tax money for the district. The illegal activity added VND780 million ($36,700) to the public coffers.
Duong Trung Kinh, former head of the district Natural Resources and Environment Department, was sentenced to six months in jail for criminal negligence.
Seven excavators were sentenced to between one and eight months in jail.
They have recovered the money earned from the excavation, which lasted for a year and ended in October 2012, when Dong Thap provincial police intercepted three barges dredging sand at night.
The court sentenced Duong Tan Quoc, director of the fake company Ngu Binh that was given the excavation rights, to one and a half years in jail while his deputy Phan Thanh Dan received one year and 2.5 months.
Quoc and Dan rented out the area to others who paid them VND30 million per barge.
A previous trial opened in February related to the same case but adjourned due to a lack of eyewitnesses.

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