Vietnam security chief says bad economy giving rise to organized crime

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Minister of Public Security Tran Dai Phong speaks at a house meeting Monday on rising crimes in Vietnam. Photo by Ngoc Thang

The Minister of Public Security said at a National Assembly meeting Monday that crime in Vietnam is becoming a more serious and better organized problem due to rising unemployment and lax law enforcement.

Tran Dai Quang said basic crimes like murders and robberies had reduced in number from last year, but they were more serious in nature. He said there were not as spontaneous as in the past but were now operations run by organized gangs.

"Protection" rackets, loan-sharking, debt collection, extortion, and gambling were all controlled by criminal organizations now. The gambling problem was particularly bad online and in border areas, he said.

Quang also pointed to serious economic crimes, including recent cases of corruption exposed in public asset management.

Major economic cases were named at the meeting, as officials said their investigations had been finalized and the offenders would be tried at local courts.

Hanoi will hold a trial on a multimillion dollar graft case at the state-owned shipping giant Vinalines as well as the case of its former head Duong Chi Dung, who fled the country last year, and the case of Asia Commercial Bank losing more than VND1.4 trillion ($66.26 million) to illegal securities purchases and illegal deposits by six former executives in 2009 and 2011.

Ho Chi Minh City will hold a trial on a scam at state-owned Vietinbank in which 23 people, most of them employees, allegedly swindled nearly VND4 trillion ($190.6 million) in 2010 and 2011.

It will also hear the VND20 billion ($948,000) embezzlement case involving Vietnam Food Industries Joint-Stock Company. It's former chairman, a former deputy general director and three of their subordinates will be tried.

The minister said the poor economy that sent many people out on the street jobless had complicated the public security situation. He also pointed to a rise in pornographic and violent content on the internet.

But he also blamed "limited" capacity of law enforcement forces in preventing crimes. He said they have not met the people's demands.

Officials from the Justice Committee at the legislature (National Assembly) said the ministry machine is leaning more towards punishing crimes than preventing them.

The committee said there were signs that a number of government officials are protecting criminals in certain areas such as natural resource excavation and transport.

"Many crimes were happening in day light and could not be ended by the local authorities," the committee chairman Nguyen Van Hien said, without specifying.

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