Vietnam police officer arrested for abetting escape of multimillion-dollar graft suspect

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A police officer in the northern city of Hai Phong has been arrested for being part of a group that helped a former state corporation chief wanted in a multi-million dollar graft case flee the country last May.

Pham Dinh Nghien, deputy police chief of An Tho commune in An Lao District, was taken in for abetting the escape of Duong Chi Dung, former head of shipping giant Vinalines and the Vietnam Maritime Administration.

Nghien said he and his chief Vu Van Sau had helped a former Hai Phong customs official obtain a fake ID for Dung to exit Vietnam.

Sau was arrested last month while the police put out a warrant in October for the customs official, Dong Xuan Phong, who was already wanted by the Ho Chi Minh City police for smuggling. He remains at large.

Colonel Vu Tien Son, head of the Hai Phong city public order police department, was arrested earlier this month for helping organize the escape.

Dung, 55, himself was apprehended by Interpol in a Southeast Asian country in September and extradited to Vietnam.

Investigators had gone to Dung's house in Hanoi May 18 to arrest him but he had fled the previous day.

He has been charged with "deliberately violating state economic regulations causing serious consequences" while at the helm of Vinalines between 2005 and February 2012.

He was later appointed head of the maritime department.

State inspectors found several irregularities and fraud committed by Vinalines officials between 2007 and 2010, including in the purchase and inefficient use of old ships.

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Several have already been arrested.

The firm incurred losses of more than VND2.6 trillion (US$24.7 million) last year and VND1.2 trillion in 2010, but falsely reported profits.

A government report in June said the corporation was in a "very difficult" financial situation, with debts totaling more than VND43 trillion ($2 billion).

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