No proof ex-maritime chief paid bribes to escape arrest: police

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The police have not found any evidence that the Vietnam Maritime Administration director had paid bribes to be informed in advance of his impending arrest in May, a police general said.

Director Duong Chi Dung, 55, absconded before the arrest was announced on May 18. He had been investigated for allegations of million-dollar financial mismanagement during his stewardship of the state-owned shipping firm Vinalines between 2005 and early this year. He is still at large.

Lieutenant General Phan Van Vinh, head of the Criminal Police Department at the Ministry of Public Security, said in an online conversation held by the Cong An Nhan Dan newspaper on Friday that "there's no information that Dung had paid a lot of money to be notified in advance so he could save himself."

Vinh said the police are still investigating and will punish anyone found to have leaked information to Dung. An Interpol warrant for him was issued last month.

"Though Dung has not been arrested, the police have gained documents and statements from people involved," Vinh said.

He said investigators have shown their "determination" in the case, placing 13 Vinalines officials under investigation, including Mai Van Phuc, former general director, Tran Huu Chieu, former deputy general director, and Bui Thi Bich Loan, former chief accountant.

The government ordered an investigation into Vinalines earlier this year after state inspectors found several irregularities and fraud committed by the company officials in the 2007-2010 period, including the purchase and inefficient use of old ships.

It incurred losses of more than VND2.6 trillion (US24.7 million) last year and VND1.2 trillion in 2010, but falsely reported profits.

A government report early in June said the corporation was in a "very difficult" financial situation with debts topping VND43 trillion (more than US$2 billion).

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