HA NOI — Three Danish aid projects in Viet Nam have been temporarily suspended on suspicion of irregularities following the result of an in-depth financial audit, the Embassy of Denmark in Ha Noi announced yesterday.
The three projects that were suspended were part of a Danish funded research programme which includes a total of four projects.
"The issues observed during the procedures include use of consultancies for personal benefit, overcharge of internal facilities and cash deficits compared to the balance of cash book," according to the announcement.
The amount of misused funds could potentially be as much as DKK 3.3 million (US$547,000).
Danish Ambassador to Viet Nam John Nielsen said the embassy was now working with the Vietnamese Government and partner institutions to deal with the issue, which was regarded as a serious breach.
"The initial response from the Vietnamese Government has been co-operative," said Nielsen.
Speaking to Viet Nam News yesterday, director of the Ministry of Science and Technology's International Co-operation Department Mai Ha said the research programme, which was signed by the two governments in 2008, focused on climate change mitigation.
Ha said his agency was only involved in the initial phase of screening prospective projects to narrow down suitable candidates that met the programme's requirements. Based on the ministry's recommendation, the Danish Government would decide the finalists and directly work with these groups afterwards.
The four projects included "Impacts of Climate Change on Land Use Change in the Red River Delta and its Community Livelihood Change" by the Viet Nam National University and "Improving rice tolerance of submergence and salinity to cope with climate change in coastal areas of Vietnamese Deltas" by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The other two remaining projects, "Climate change and estuarine systems" and "Assessing effects of and responses to climate change on environment and socio-economic development in mid-Central Viet Nam", were led by the Viet Nam Institute of Science and Technology.
Ha said his agency has not been informed about which three of these projects were suspended but his agency would stand by to provide its support to the on-going investigation into the irregularities. — VNS