Shipping firm head arrested for helping fugitive shipper flee country

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Vietnam's Ministry of Public Security has arrested the director of a joint-stock shipping company for allegedly helping the former head of a state shipper involved in a multimillion dollar corruption scam flee the country.

Nguyen Hong Vinh, 36, from the northern city of Hai Phong and head of an unnamed Ho Chi Minh City-based firm, allegedly drove Duong Chi Dung, former general director of the troubled Vinalines, to Tay Ninh Province on the Cambodian border so that the latter could enter that country. 

Dung is accused of "deliberately violating state economic regulations causing serious consequences" as chairman of Vinalines between 2005 and February last year.

The 55-year-old was arrested in an unidentified Southeast Asian country last September and extradited after he disappeared from his home in Hanoi in May, a day before the police sought to apprehend him.

Dung had earlier asked his brother Duong Tu Trong, suspended deputy director of the Hai Phong police and a senior public security ministry official, to help him escape over the China border, but the attempt failed.

Trong and several other police officials were later arrested for abetting his escape, while several Vinalines executives have been taken in for wrongdoing.

The government had ordered an investigation into Vinalines after state inspectors found evidence of irregularities and fraud by officials between 2007 and 2010.

Among them was the purchase and inefficient use of old ships and a purchase of a 43-year-old floating dock from Singapore for $9 million. Repair work then raised the cost to $26.3 million, around 70 percent of the price of a new dock.

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They found the company actually incurred losses of more than VND2.6 trillion (US$24.7 million) in 2009 and VND1.2 trillion in 2010, but falsely reported profits.

It also built three unauthorized ship repair facilities between 2007 and 2010.

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