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Social protection centre heads steal $35,000 from patients

Update: November, 02/2015 - 17:33
A photo showing mentally ill patients at the Nghe An social protection centre, half naked and holding a bowl of rice with only three thin slices of pork for a meal. — Photo Dam Lan Anh

NGHE AN — Heads of a social protection centre in the central province of Nghe An embezzled nearly VND800 million (US$35,500) from its mentally ill and elderly patients over the last five years, officials said today.

The centre's director, Nguyen Xuan Phu, and a deputy director, Nguyen Thi Thu Phuong, were reported by the provincial Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Department's inspectors to have pocketed the difference in funds sent to the centre and the prices of clothing and medicine which the government is supposed to provide to the centre's members.

"They also claimed the difference in meal portions and even falsified records related to the number of patients at the centre," the Department Deputy Director Nguyen Dang Duong said.

In August, pictures showing mentally ill patients at the centre, half naked and holding a bowl of rice with only three thin slices of pork, went viral on the Internet, triggering an inspection by the department into the centre's spending habits with its budget.

The two heads of the centre stole a total of VND779 million ($34,600); this amount has been retrieved by the department.

"The penalty has yet to be determined, but I assure you that Phu and Phuong will be fired from their posts," Duong said. — VNS

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