Toyota Vietnam denies it has punished whistleblower

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Toyota Vietnam (TMV) told the media Monday that a decision to suspend an engineer has nothing to do with him exposing technical flaws in cars produced by the company.

TMV confirmed at the press conference that Le Van Tach has been suspended for three months pending investigations into his bad influence on his colleagues' work and prestige.

On May 31, Tach lodged a petition to Akito Tachibana, TMV general director, saying that he was repeatedly insulted and threatened by seven officers in the company since he exposed three errors of TMV cars to the public, and required an apology and compensation for the acts.

The TMV leader replied him, on June 10, that several officers admitted having insulting words to Tach but it was just a personal matter.

Tach received a suspension notice two days later, in which the company said further investigations into his "bad influence" will be made during his suspension.

The company said Tach will be paid half of monthly salary as regulated by Vietnamese Labor Code.

It insisted at the press conference that suspension is not a "punishment" to the whistleblower whose discovery last March led to the recall of more than 65,000 faulty cars and forced TMV to convey a public apology to its customers on April 15.

"The suspension is based on Tach's accusations and behavior towards several officers in the company and it has nothing to do with his exposure," TMV general director Akito Tachinaba told the press.

Meanwhile, Tach told Thanh Nien that he objected to the unfounded accusations by TMV that he had bad influence on his coworkers.

"I have collected all evidence and document needed to protect my rights," he said.

He revealed he discovered an additional four errors on Toyota cars, and he had recently reported to the company leaders.

TMV representatives told the press the errors had yet to cause any consequences to its customers as some of them have been fixed, and it has reported to the mother company about those errors.

The company refused to answer questions about when the errors were detected and fixed and how many flawed cars would be recalled.

Meanwhile, Tach said the company deliberately evaded to admit the four errors.

"I'm collecting more evidence about that and will reported to local authorities in the next few days," he said.

Tach, a 35-year-old engineer for Toyota Vietnam, has been in the national spotlight since late last month when he lodged a complaint with the Vietnam Register, a quality control agency, saying there were three major problems with the Innova and Fortuner models produced by his employer.

After the exposure, Tach is still employed by the company.

Toyota is the largest carmaker in Vietnam. The Toyota Innova is a popular model in the country, used widely by many taxi companies.

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