Vietnam PM makes more orders to clarify banknote scandal

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Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has ordered the central police to clarify and handle in accordance with Vietnamese laws a case in which local officials allegedly accepted bribes from an Australian banknote-printing firm.

According to the newswire Dan Tri, Dung, who serves as head of the Central Steering Committee on Anti-Corruption, made the order about the scandal of the Reserve Bank of Australia's currency firm, Securency, at his latest meeting with related central agencies.

In 2009, the firm's officials were accused of bribing Le Duc Thuy, former governor of the State Bank of Vietnam, to land huge banknote supply contracts worth tens of millions of dollars in Vietnam between 2002 and 2009.

Dan Tri said at the latest meeting Dung also asked the committee to "quickly" and "thoroughly" conclude high-profile, massive corruption cases like the huge losses at the state-owned Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Group (Vinashin).

People with wrongdoings have to be punished in accordance with the laws, the PM stressed.

The Ministry of Public Security and the committee were ordered to review and report corruption cases in banking and loaning activities, as well, Dan Tri reported.

"Corruption is still complicated with acts getting more and more sophisticated," the PM said. "Besides, some critical cases are being handled slowly, causing suspicions among part of the public about agencies' determination and strictness in fighting corruption."

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Dung said the committee will continue improving frameworks to fight corruption and conduct more inspections, especially in fields like compensations for site clearance projects.

According to the newswire, more than 2,000 inspections have been launched across Vietnam within the first nine months of this year.

Inspectors have found nearly VND208 billion (US$9.9 million) and more than 242 hectares of land have been improperly used, and have transferred six cases along with 14 suspects to police for criminal investigations, it said.

The People's Supreme Court, meanwhile, said within the first nine months, 167 corruption cases with 392 defendants have been tried, a decrease of 14.3 percent from the previous year, Dan Tri reported.

Earlier this month, Dung asked diplomatic and internal affair agencies to keep tabs on the progress of Securency's case.

Previously, on September 17, The Age reported that that Bill Lowther, former deputy chairman of Securency, was charged by Britain's Serious Fraud Office with bribing Thuy in 2003 by paying for his son, Le Duc Minh, to attend Durham University, England.

Meanwhile, Australian Federal Police have charged eight former senior executives of Securency, and Note Printing Australia, also owned by the Reserve Bank of Australia, with bribing public officials in Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

However, in its report to the National Assembly in October the Vietnam government said the Ministry of Public Security's initial findings have yet to find any evidence of Vietnamese officials accepting bribes.

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