Vietnam's disgraced official accused of using embezzled money to buy houses for mistress

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The floating dock worth US$9 million. Photo by Diep Duc Minh

The former chairman of Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines) used money earned from a multimillion dollar corruption scandal at the state shipping firm to buy two high-end apartments for his mistress, investigators at the Ministry of Public Security have alleged.

They seized the two units at apartment buildings on Lang Ha and Ly Thuong Kiet streets in Hanoi.

Duong Chi Dung, Vinalines' former  chairman. PHOTO: REUTERS

Duong Chi Dung, Vinalines' former board chairman, is among ten facing charges of embezzlement and "deliberately violating state regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences" in the purchase of an old and badly damaged floating dock from Russia at an unreasonably high price in 2008.

Investigators completed their investigation Monday and proposed the aforementioned charges to the Supreme People's Procuracy, Vietnam's highest prosecutors' office, which will consider ratifying the charges.

They said Vinalines bought the dock with US$9 million rather than less than $5 million required by the seller.   

The dock, which was made in Japan in 1965, had been banned from operation by the Russian register agency from 2006. Since it was imported from Russia in June 2008, it has been anchored in the southern province of Dong Nai.

Vinalines paid an amount dozens of times higher than the purchase cost to repair it but still cannot use it.

It was planned to be the core of the Vinalines Shipyard Company facility, based in the southern coastal province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau.

Dung, Mai Van Phuc, former Vinalines' general director, Tran Huu Chieu, former deputy general director, and Tran Hai Son, former general director of the Vinalines Shipyard, also face charges of embezzlement.

Dung and Phuc, who are accused of leading the scam, earned VND10 billion ($474,300) each, while Son and Chieu got more than VND5.8 billion and VND340 million respectively, according to investigators. 

The four and six other accomplices, including two other senior employees at Vinalines and its member company, an employee at the Vietnam Register, and three customs officials at Van Phong Port in Khanh Hoa Province, also face charges of "deliberately violating state regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences."

The six accomplices helped with procedures to illegally import the dock, although they knew about its poor condition.

Investigators said total losses in the dock scam were estimated at nearly VND367 billion. 

The scam at Vinalines was listed by the Supreme People's Court last month as on of the country's ten major corruption cases.

Minister of Public Security Tran Dai Quang has asked that all agencies involved be prepared to put the Vinalines case to trial by the end of this year.

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