Officials punished for corruption in southern Vietnam

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An official at the southern province of Ca Mau's social affairs department and his subordinate have been disciplined for receiving over VND200 million (US$9,600) in bribes from the contractor of a cemetery project.

Pham Van My, vice director of Ca Mau's Department of Labors, War Invalids and Social Affairs, told Thanh Nien on Tuesday that Nguyen Thanh Phong, chief of the department's finance office, was demoted from his position at the department's Communist Party Unit.

His subordinate, Nguyen Trung Tam, deputy chief of the office, was dismissed from the Party unit.

The officials are also facing punishment, possibly dismissal, from the department, according to My.

Earlier, inspectors from the department's Party unit concluded that Tam had received VND200 million from Le Thanh Phuong, director of Phuong Nam Consultancy and Construction Company, during a project to upgrade a martyrs' cemetery in Nam Can District.

Phong, meanwhile, received over VND50 million ($2,400) from Phuong and another contractor.

Chung Ngoc Nhan, director of the department, was also accused of receiving VND575 million ($27,600) from Phuong.

However, since she is a member of the Ca Mau Province Party Unit, the inspectors have asked the provincial unit to handle the case, a report on VnExpress said Tuesday.

According to the newspaper, the corruption case began some three months ago when a member of the department's Party unit accused several local officials of corruption. The member, whose identity was not revealed, also sent five audio files that had Phuong mentioning that he gave the money to Tam.

Two months later, Phuong was arrested on suspicion that he had slandered many officials by claiming that they had received his money after he won a VND11-billion ($528,000) contract for the project. The accused officials denied the claim.

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