Investigators have altered the charge pending against a former senior railway official as they continue to investigate his alleged role in a bribery scandal involving a Tokyo-based contractor.
Tran Quoc Dong, 50, the former deputy director of Vietnam Railways, is now being investigated for “abuse of a position and/or powers while performing official duties,” a police source told Thanh Nien.
The new charge will supplant the earlier charge of gross negligence, which was announced shortly before his arrest in May.
Investigators said that while Dong was director of the Railway Projects Management Unit (RPMU), the Japan Transportation Consultants, Inc. (JTC) transferred his agency about VND1 billion (US$47,225), of which he received VND30 million.
Five other railway officials were arrested for abusing their positions including Trang Van Luc and Nguyen Van Hieu, two former RPMU directors, Pham Hai Bang and Pham Quang Duy, two former RPMU deputy directors and Nguyen Nam Thai, head of a RPMU branch.
The arrests were made following Japanese media reports that a JTC official bribed Vietnamese officials for contracts.
On March 21, Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported that JTC president Tamio Kakinuma admitted that his company had paid an official 80 million yen (US$782,000) for a contract 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.
Dong initially faced the charge of gross official negligence which is punishable by of up to five years in jail.
The new charge carries a similar term, in most cases. However "serious" cases carry up 15 years imprisonment in serious cases, instead of ten years in the old crime, besides an additional fine.