Vietnam police sting nets corrupt customs official

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Police in the northwestern province of Lao Cai have arrested a top customs official for allegedly taking bribes, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported Monday.

Tran Minh Thuong, 48, chief of the Muong Khuong Border Gate Customs Bureau, was caught red-handed in his office while taking VND169 million (US$8,100) from a business executive in a sting operation organized by the police on July 18.

In early July Nguyen The Anh, an employee of Khanh Minh Limited Company based in Lao Cai, lodged a complaint with the Ministry of Public Security accusing Thuong of demanding bribes from his company.

When his company sent exports through the border gate in May, Thuong had demanded VND1 million bribe per container of frozen products and VND3 million for sugar, he alleged.

Khuong had said he would not let the products go to China without the bribes, he said.

Anh said he had paid Khuong a total of VND316 million ($15,174) on various occasions.

In July the company had 169 containers for export, and Thuong repeatedly called Anh to demand money.

The company management decided to complain to the police.

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On July 18 Nguyen Thi Hoa, director of the company, was scheduled to meet Thuong to hand over the VND169 million bribe. The money changed hands, Khuong did not know that the police were ready to pounce on him, and he was caught in the act.

He has since confessed to taking bribes in the past.

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