|Overview of the Ha Noi Train Station. Six high-ranking railway officials are standing trial for the alleged half-a-million-dollar slush fund involved in the city's Urban Railway Construction Project (Line 1). Photo vietnamplus.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — The two-day trial of six Viet Nam Railway Corporation (VNR) officials accused of abuse of power commenced at the Ha Noi People's Court yesterday.
Pham Hai Bang, former deputy general director of the Railway Project Management Unit (RPMU) under VNR, along with four other officials, who were former heads and deputy heads of RPMU and Tran Quoc Dong, former general deputy director of VNR are standing trial for management misconduct in their dealings with the Japan Transportation Consultants, Inc. (JTC).
At the trial, Bang denied that he asked JTC, who was at the time involved in the city's Urban Railway Construction Project (Line 1) to provide him with money, while evidence was presented to the court indicating that he was the one who directly handled the funds.
The railway official allegedly accepted around VND11 billion (nearly half a million US dollars) to cover numerous expenses including organising meetings, signing ceremonies, hosting receptions and paying for overtime as well as other miscellaneous uses. These, of course, were not recorded in any accounting book.
Dong and other officials were said to be fully aware of the slush fund, but took no action to stop it.
In addition, they all received money from it on different occasions in various amounts ranging from VND30 million ($1,350) to VND100 million ($4,500).
Bang was identified as the ring leader and main perpetrator in the under-the-table dealings with JTC. Police sources also confirmed a number of the country's railway high ranking officials, who were involved in the case but not yet identified, will also be investigated.
In March last year, the Japanese-newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported that JTC's President Tamio Kakinuma had admitted to paying "kickbacks" to foreign civil servants in Viet Nam, Indonesia and Uzbekistan in return for five ODA projects.
The scandal prompted the arrest of the six railway officials and the Japanese government suspended ODA funding to Viet Nam temporarily. It was later resumed in July last year.
At the trial yesterday, a representative from the People's Procuracy proposed imposing 6-13 years imprisonment on the six accused, saying that their wrongdoing had caused serious consequences, to the Viet Nam-Japan relationship as well as Viet Nam's image.
The People's Procuracy also proposed collecting all the money the accused earned from the slush fund. — VNS