Vietnamese arrested for eating into charity for disabled kids

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Pham Van Thanh (left), director of the Ha Giang Disabled Children Charity Center, under arrest December 27 for stealing money from the center. Photo courtesy of Tuoi Tre

The director and accountant of a center for disabled children in Ha Giang Province were arrested Friday for stealing nearly US$9,000 in funds from the charity.

Pham Ngoc Thanh, director of Ha Giang Disabled Children's Charity Center, and his accountant Nguyen Thi Lan Anh, will be detained for three months for investigations into embezzlement charges, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.

The police followed local tip-offs and discovered that Thanh had ordered Anh and the center's cashier Trinh Thu Huong to keep some of the money donated by the government and an international organization. The donations aimed to help with meal and travel costs for the children's hospital visits in 2012 and 2013.

Thanh also asked Anh to raise the prices of medical equipment in invoices to a total of VND31.1 million higher than the real prices, stealing a total of VND181.95 million ($8,640).

Ly Quang Thai, director of the Ha Giang Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, had suggested the case be spared from criminal courts. Local police and prosecutors agreed in order to "help stabilize the political situation in the area and not to affect fundraising efforts for disabled children in Ha Giang," according to a Ha Giang police statement.

But escalating public frustration prompted Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to order that Thanh be dealt with via criminal charges. He made the statement December 20 and police charges followed three days later.

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