|Chairing the conference, Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Hong Truong answered several queries related to projects implemented by foreign contractors. — Photo nld
HA NOI (VNS) — Questions about bribery and other corruption scandals in a number of construction projects receiving official development assistance (ODA) heated up a press conference held by the Ministry of Transport yesterday.
Chairing the conference, Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Hong Truong answered several queries related to projects implemented by foreign contractors.
Responding to questions about South Korean news reports that steelmaker POSCO E&C was implicated in bribery in a construction project in Viet Nam, Truong said the ministry had not received any official information. The ministry only knew what the Korean media had reported, he said.
Late last month, South Korean media carried a number of headlines about the arrest of a former POSCO Engineering and Construction executive. He is suspected to have created a slush fund worth around 10 billion won (US$9 million) between 2009 and 2012, when he was leading the Viet Nam project as its overseas unit chief.
The Korea Herald reported that the former executive, surnamed Park, and POSCO E&C have argued that the funds were used as a rebates paid to the builder's sub-contractors.
Park has been arrested on embezzlement charges, other reports said.
Deputy Minister Truong said that POSCO E&C was in charge of three construction packages of the Noi Bai-Lao Cai Expressway.
He said that all bids for the $1.2 billion expressway's eight construction packages, which were implemented between 2009 and 2014, were held following international regulations and supervised by international donors.
"All processes were implemented and inspected carefully. The State Inspectorate has also studied the projects and is yet to find anything suspicious," he said.
Truong added the allegation that the money was used to pay sub-contractors is a matter involving POSCO E&C and its sub-contractors, and the Ministry of Transport had nothing to do with it.
Regarding Japan's request that Viet Nam refunds the full amount disbursed under a consulting contract for a bribe-tainted Japanese ODA-funded railway project in Ha Noi, Truong said the ministry was checking all the processes to proceed with the refund.
The Ha Noi Urban Railway Line 1 Construction Project was hit with a $780,000 bribery scandal last year. In a press conference earlier this week, the representative of Japan International Co-operation Agency, Yamamoto Kenichi, said that at a trial in Japan, the Japan Transportation Consultant Inc (JTC) had admitted to bribery involved in procurement for the project.
The request for refund was made as the contract had not complied with JICA Procurement Guidelines, he said.
Truong said that the refund was mandated by international rules that all countries had to abide by.
"The ministry has assigned the project management unit to check the contract and calculate the money to be refunded.
The loan money will definitely be returned," he said, adding that results of the investigation would be made public.
Answering a question on the World Bank's debarment of an American company for engaging in corrupt practices in two projects in Viet Nam, one of them in transportation, Truong said the ministry had yet to receive official information about the case.
Early in February, the World Bank had announced the debarment of Louis Berger Group, Inc (LBG) following an internal investigation that found the company had made illegal payments to government officials. The two projects that the company was involved in included a rural transportation project under the Ministry of Transport. — VNS