A court in Ho Chi Minh City will open trial proceedings against a former transportation official for accepting US$262,000 in bribes from a Tokyo-based company seeking contracts for a major roadway project.
The trial of Huynh Ngoc Si former head of the East-West Highway Project in HCMC and vice director of the city's Department of Transport is scheduled to begin on September 28 and last for three days, the court said on Tuesday (September 14).
On September 9, the Supreme People's Procuracy, Vietnam's highest prosecutor's office, issued an indictment against Si, accusing the ex-official of committing crimes that could attract the death penalty.
Si, who is currently serving a six-year jail term for "abuse of power," has denied all wrongdoing.
According to the official indictment, Si was assigned to oversee the East-West Highway Project on September 26, 2000. Over VND14 trillion (US$718.5 million) in foreign and domestic funds had been set aside for the project.
In January 2001, the project's management board invited five companies, including the Tokyo-based Pacific Consultants International (PCI), to bid on the project.
According to prosecutors in both Japan and Vietnam, PCI's officials bribed Si in an effort to win a consulting and supervision role on the project. The indictment further alleges that Si took steps to ensure that PCI was treated generously after they had been selected for the job.
Prosecutors say that after several meetings, PCI agreed to pay Si 11 percent, or $1.7 million, of a supervision contract, and 10 percent, or $900,000, of a consulting contract.
Officials from the Japanese Ministry of Justice claim that on May 28, 2005, Si accepted $262,000 from Sakano Tsuneo, chief representative of PCI in Vietnam, and Takasu Kunio, former managing director of PCI, at his office.
On November 11, 2009 while standing trial in Tokyo, PCI leaders testified that they had bribed Si on six additional occasions. Japan prosecuted the officials for offering $820,000 in bribes.
Si is being brought to trial in Vietnam for the $262,000 bribes while other allegations are being investigated further. The deadline for the initial investigation has ended, according to prosecutors, creating something of a time crunch.
Si was convicted this March for illegally leasing office space to PCI from August 2001 and November 2002 and pocketing VND1.2 billion (currently $62,959) from the deal.