Official rejects bogus degree accusations

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Vu Viet Ngoan, newly appointed chairman of the National Financial Supervisory Committee, Thursday told the press he did not pursue learning for salary raises or promotions.

Ngoan's educational qualifications have recently stirred public attention after local websites accused him of having bought a fake doctorate degree in finance from a US university.

In an interview with the Tuoi Tre newspaper, Ngoan said he signed up for the doctorate degree at La Salle University in 1995 and later received permission from his employer at that time the Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) to pursue a distance learning program with the university.

Ngoan was then deputy general director of Vietcombank.

He did not specify in which US state the La Salle University was located.

According to several newswires, there are two La Salle University in the US one in Philadelphia and another in Louisiana.

The former does not have any programs for doctorate degree in finance, the newswires said.

The latter was known as a fraudulent higher education organization (diploma mill) operated by Thomas James Kirk, who was indicted for fraud in 1996 and, after a plea agreement, was sentenced to five years in US federal prison.

In 1997, the Louisiana-based LaSalle University was sold to new owners who operated it as a legitimate operation until January 1999 (however, during this period some students were still doing substandard work for the old LaSalle programs).

It continued to operate under the LaSalle name from January 1999 until October 2000. Beginning in October 2000 and continuing until its final closure in the summer of 2002, it used the name Orion College.

"In 1996, a scandal happened at the university, with the rector having committed some wrongdoing, including making exaggerated claims on training quality," Ngoan told Tuoi Tre.

"The university was taken over by new investors and restructured the following year.

"I started learning in 1997 and defended my PhD thesis in late 1998.

 "I wanted to study for gaining knowledge, not for salary raise or promotion."

The government last month appointed Ngoan to chair the National Financial Supervisory Committee, which monitors the country's banking sector

Ngoan is the former vice chairman of the National Assembly's Economic Affairs Committee.

The Financial Supervisory Committee was established in 2008. It is also in charge of supervising activities in the securities and insurance sectors. 

Le Duc Thuy, a former central bank governor, served as its first chairman until his retirement in May.

Ngoan has worked in the banking-finance sector for 30 years.

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