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Alleged bribery prompts railway project scrutiny

Update: March, 27/2014 - 09:44

HA NOI (VNS)— The Ministry of Transport has decided to launch inspections into railway projects contracted to Japan Transportation Consultants, Inc (JTC) following alleged misuse of Japanese government aid.

Bidding for the projects was organised by the Viet Nam Railway Corporation and the Viet Nam Railway Authority.

The move follows a report in Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun that JTC had admitted to paying JPY80 million (about US$780,000) to win a $41 million railway project in Viet Nam funded by Japanese official development assistance (ODA).

The accused firm was involved in the ongoing Ha Noi City Urban Railway Construction Project (Line 1), according to the transport ministry.

Two teams of inspectors will report on the management, implementation and construction of the project and a number of others under the Viet Nam Railway Corporation involving JTC.

Inspections will also be carried out on a number of minor railway projects managed by the Viet Nam Railway Authority, including railway projects linking Ha Long-Cai Lan, Lim-Pha Lai and Pha Lai-Ha Long.

All inspection activities will be supervised by Chief Inspector Nguyen Van Huyen from the transport ministry.

The Ministry of Public Security is also working with the ministry's inspectors to review the Ha Noi City Urban Railway Construction Project to find possible shortcomings and violations during its implementation.

Four senior Vietnamese railway officials have been suspended pending further investigation into the case.

The ministry has ordered 10 of its officials to present written accounts of their involvement in the early stages of the Ha Noi railway project.

The ministry has sent Deputy Minister Nguyen Ngoc Dong to Japan to work with Japanese authorities on the case. He is scheduled to work with the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office and the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper to verify the allegations.

In an article published on March 21, Yomiuri Shimbun – the highest circulating newspaper in Japan – reported that JTC President Tamio Kakinuma had admitted to paying "kickbacks" to civil servants in Viet Nam, Indonesia and Uzbekistan in return for orders for five ODA projects.

According to the newspaper, illegal payments were made on some 40 occasions between 2008 and February this year, totaling about JPY130 million ($1.27 million). — VNS

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