Fourteen railroad officials accused by a Japanese executive to have taken bribes to award his firm a contract for an ODA-funded project have denied the charge, the Ministry of Transport said Wednesday.
Among the officials, including three retired ones, four were suspended right after the case was reported by Japanese media last month.
Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper quoted Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong as saying that the officials have returned to work after submitting reports to his ministry.
On March 21 The Japan News, an English news website run by Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, reported that Tamio Kakinuma, president of Japan Transportation Consultants, Inc. (JTC), had admitted that his company had paid an official 80 million yen (US$782,000) to get an order worth 4.2 billion yen ($41 million) in Vietnam.
The kickback was said to have been paid to a senior official in an office responsible for project administration at the state-owned Vietnam Railways.
Though Japan has refused to provide Vietnam information about the case since its own investigation is underway, Hanoi’s first urban railroad is thought to be the project in question.
Work on the 28-kilometer elevated rail route from Yen Vien town in Gia Lam District to Ngoc Hoi in Thanh Tri Commune began in 2008.
A joint-venture between JTC and other Japanese and Vietnamese companies won a bid to become the project’s consultant with a contract worth over 2.9 billion yen and VND320 billion (a total of $43.35 million).
But due to changes in design, the contract value rose to over VND3.6 billion yen and VND236 billion (a total of $46.33 million).
The consulting joint-venture was to have signed a contract for the project’s next stage this July, but, following the scandal, the ministry has suspended negotiations as well as disbursement for the first stage.
The project has so far got over 21.2 billion yen ($207.3 million) from the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
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