Police press charges against autocratic university director

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Police has pressed charges against the director of Quy Nhon university for financial and administrative misconduct that included violent assaults, embezzlement and withholding teacher salaries and student scholarships.

Investigators said Thursday that Tran Tin Kiet had connived with security department chief Tran Xuan Canh and deputy chief Le Van Phuc to embezzle more than VND390 million (US$22,000) in prepaid student parking fees from 2001-2007.

Canh and Phuc have also been charged by police in the central province of Binh Dinh.

Inspectors from the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) said Kiet played the major role in the scam.

Tyranny

Teachers from the university said Kiet had refused to pay their salaries and had even lashed out violently, said investigators.

In January, more than 100 teachers unsuccessfully demanded more than VND20 billion (US$1.14 million) owed to them since 2006, including payments for teaching extra classes, financial support for new teachers, bonuses for doctorate holders, and annual allowances of VND8 million ($458) each.

Kiet was angered by the demand and allegedly assaulted one of the teachers while an assault by Kiet's niece and school official Tran The Hung put teacher Nguyen Thanh Nhon in the hospital.

Stealing from kids

According to a source close to the director, the school collected tens of billions of dong from tuition fees every year and "faced no such thing as a fund shortage."

Kiet has also allegedly withheld scholarship funds from about 9,600 students, totaling VND810 million ($46,300) for the 2007-2008 school year's second term. But he also banned them from taking examinations if their tuition fees were late, said investigators' reports.

Kiet had also allegedly lied on a report to the ministry he signed in September last year. He said the school had stopped collecting textbook and insurance fees from students in 2005.

Students were, however, required to pay VND400,000 ($23) for textbooks and VND500,000 ($29) for insurance as stipulated in a notice to freshmen.

Consolidating power

Bui Manh Nhi, head of the ministry's personnel department, said Kiet also refused to leave his post the ministry did not extend his term as director, which finished on December 2, 2008.

A teacher said the university had "lost its way" under Kiet and was fulfilling none of its objectives for the 2008-2009 academic year.

The problems were compounded by the fact that Kiet had stripped university deputy director Le Van Duc and two other deputies of their authority, said Duc.

"Kiet said he wouldn't stamp any document signed by deputy directors," Duc said.

Nguyen Sum, another deputy director, said deputies were excluded from many important meetings.

Reckless endangerment

Kiet was also responsible for several ineffective construction projects at the school, worth billions of dong in total, during his 1998- 2008 term, according to police reports.

Quy Nhon University' labs built in 2006 for VND3 billion ($168,500) had begun deteriorating after only 6 months.

The Ministry suspended Kiet for three months in January to investigate his alleged financial and administrative misconduct.

Sum will manage the school until the ministry assigns a replacement.

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