Vietnam jails six ex-gov’t officials for small time graft

By Duc Huy, Thanh Nien News

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The defendants standing trial for embezzlement in a Swedish-funded project in the central province of Phu Yen. Photo: Duc Huy The defendants standing trial for embezzlement in a Swedish-funded project in the central province of Phu Yen. Photo: Duc Huy
A Phu Yen court sentenced six former government officials to jail for siphoning funds from an environmental project managed by Sweden; it was the fourth verdict issued. 
The provincial court found the defendants guilty of abusing their powers to falsify documents and pocket more than VND432 million (US$20,337) from the budget of an Environmental Management and Land Administration (SEMLA) project between 2007 and 2009.
Nguyen Kim Phuc, former director of the Phu Yen Department of Natural Resources and Environment was sentenced to four years in jail. Phuc was the director of the SEMLA project.
According to the indictment, Phuc embezzled VND15.6 million ($736) in the course of the scheme.
Phuc’s four subordinates were sentenced to three years in jail include Ha Thuong Truc, the agency's chief accountant, Nguyen Van Mau, chief of the agency office, the project’s secretary Vo Van Dung, and Vo Ngoc Tuan, deputy head of the agency’s environmental branch.
Phan The Quoc, another of Phuc’s subordinates, was sentenced to two and a half years in jail.
Aside from the five defendants sentenced in the scheme, four other employees from the department were sentenced to two and a half years in prison: Tran Thi Na, Nguyen Thi Thanh Vy, Phan Thi Kim Oanh and Luu Pham Ba Luan.
The Court of First Instance initially sentenced Phuc to 3 years in prison in 2012. His nine subordinates received punishments that ranged from two-year suspended sentences and two-and-a-half-year jail terms.
Three months later, an appeals court reduced the sentence against Phuc to three years of probation.
However, following an appeal from Truong Hoa Binh, the head judge of the Supreme People’s Court, the agency’s judiciary council opened a court of cassation that called for new proceedings.

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