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Đắk Nông Court sentences whistleblower to 4.5 years

Update: March, 28/2017 - 10:56
Trần Minh Lợi (second from left), who owned the Facebook account Diệt giặc nội xâm (Fighting against internal invaders)--focusing on fighting corruption--was sentenced four-and-a-half years for handing out bribes worth VNĐ90 million (US$4,000). — Photo vietnamnet.vn

ĐẮK NÔNG — The People’s Court of the Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) province of Đắk Nông yesterday handed sentences to a whistleblower-turned-bribe-giver and seven others for taking bribes.

Accordingly, Trần Minh Lợi, who owned the Facebook account Diệt giặc nội xâm (Fighting against internal invaders)--focusing on fighting corruption--was sentenced four-and-a-half years for handing out bribes worth VNĐ90 million (US$4,000).

Others involved in the case including Nguyễn Xuân An, sentenced one year and nine days imprisonment (released in court for already finishing the sentence), Huỳnh Kim Cao Trí, sentenced one year imprisonment for bribing VNĐ60 million (nearly $2,700).

Three defendants--Huỳnh Thị Cao Thương, Trương Thị Lan and Nguyễn Thị Tý--received nine months suspended for giving bribes of VNĐ60 million.

Lãnh Thanh Bình, former police officer in Đắk Mil District, was sentenced one-and-a-half years suspended on charges of taking advantage of his influence to seek personal benefits. The court also confiscated VNĐ90 million that the defendants had committed.

A defendant of another case related to Lợi, Nguyễn Văn Phúc, former director of Đại Lộc Transaction Office under Đắk Lắk Branch of the Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development, was sentenced two-and-a-half years for receiving bribes of VNĐ30 million from Lợi in 2014. He was also barred from holding office for three years after imprisonment.

On Wednesday last week, the Đắk Nông People’s Court issued the first-instance trial of the case.

According to indictments, the police of Đắk Mil District caught six gamblers red-handed when they were playing the illegal xóc đĩa (a gambling with coins) on January 15 this year. After that, the relatives of the gamblers contacted Lieutenant Lãnh Thanh Bình to ask for ways to free the gamblers from detainment.

After receiving Bình’s assistance, the gamblers’ family members--including Nguyễn Xuân An, Huỳnh Kim Cao Trí, Huỳnh Cao Thị Thương, Nguyễn Thị Tý and Trương Thị Lan--contacted Trần Minh Lợi, who was said to have many experiences in denouncing and reporting coruption in the Central Highlands. Lợi guided those people to give money to Bình but insisted on filming the transaction.

An, Lan and Trí gave Bình VNĐ60 million at a café on January 21. All acts of taking and receiving money were recorded as evidence for Lợi to accuse Bình of taking bribes.

However, after obtaining the evidences, Lợi did not immediately report the case but used the evidences to threaten and force Bình to influence the investigative agency to release the detained gamblers and return money to their families.

When knowing that Lợi was holding the evidence, Bình came to Lợi to ask for pardon but was refused.

On February 24, Bình reported the receipt of VNĐ60 million to Đắk Mil District Police and denounced Lợi’s threatenings.

Further investigations showed that in April 2014, because of wanting to borrow bank loans with low interest rates, Lợi had contacted Nguyễn Văn Phúc, former Director of the Đại Lộc Transaction Office, Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development in Đắk Lắk, and Nguyễn Đức Trọng, a bank staffer, to propose to a loan of VNĐ1.8 billion (about $80,000). In return, Lợi promised to offer VNĐ150 million (about $6,700) if Phúc and Trọng created conditions for the loan. — VNS

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