Traffic cop probed for corruption in Ho Chi Minh City

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Police in Ho Chi Minh City have ordered an investigation into allegations that a traffic officer illegally released a motorbike seized after its owner committed traffic violations, the Tuoi Tre newspaper reported Tuesday.

Pham Hong Khanh, chief of Binh Thanh District's police division, told the newspaper about the decision after it published an investigative report Sunday, accusing Huynh Minh Duc of the district's traffic police team of illegally releasing Tran Minh Hoa's from custody after receiving VND10 million (US$486.62).

According to the report, on April 23, Hoa had his bike seized after he was found driving recklessly. He had neither his personal documents or that needed for the bike.

Under regulations, the bike should be kept at least for 30 days and its owner has to pay fines of over VND10 million and review his actions in public in his neighborhood.

However, Hoa asked a person named Hoang to help him take the bike back without making a public review, Tuoi Tre reported.

On June 25, Hoang met Duc, who is in charge of receiving documents, when he came to the traffic police's station to deal with another case.

Duc offered to help in exchange for tens of millions dong and Hoang immediately gave him VND10 million in advance, according to the newspaper.

On July 3, Duc called Hoang to receive the bike at a local coffee shop. The very next day, he called Hoang again and asked for another VND3 million to pay his senior.

Tuoi Tre said its investigation found that Duc released the bike without an official decision from his senior.

According to the report, in an interview last Friday, Nguyen Dinh Vinh, deputy chief of Binh Thanh District's traffic police, said following the information received, he had ordered an investigation and Duc had initially admitted to receiving money to take the motorbike out of police custody.

Vinh said Duc's action violated regulations and that he had ordered concerned officials to write reports on the matter.

The newspaper also quoted an unnamed source as saying Duc had given the money to his agency.

The case is being investigated further.

According to Tuoi Tre, Duc has been suspended once previously for violations in handling traffic accidents.

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