Vietnam asks Japan to probe details of graft case

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Vietnam will ask Japanese prosecutors to investigate several details of a case in which a former senior official is charged with taking bribes in an ODA-funded project, the supreme prosecutor's office said Wednesday.

According to the People's Supreme Procuracy, the latest move in investigating the charges against Huynh Ngoc Si, former head of the East-West Highway project in Ho Chi Minh City, was made because Japanese laws do not allow foreign prosecutors to conduct investigations within its territories.

Vietnam started investigating the case in December, 2008 after four former executives of Tokyo-based Pacific Consultants International said they gave Si US$2.6 million in bribes to be awarded contracts under the Japanese ODA-funded project.

The accusations were made as the PCI leaders were being tried in Tokyo for violations of the Unfair Competition Prevention Law, which prohibits bribing of foreign government officials on November 11, 2008.

However, Japan prosecuted the officials for offering $820,000 in bribes, while Vietnamese prosecutors so far have found Si accepted at least $262,000 from PCI.

The scandal led Tokyo to temporarily suspend official development assistance (ODA) loans to Vietnam in December the same year.

Si was sentenced to six years in jail at an appeals court in March for taking VND1.2 billion (current US$62,959) obtained by illegally leasing office space to PCI from August 2001 to November 2002.

His subordinate Le Qua was sentenced to five years in prison on the same charges.

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