HA NOI (VNS)— Three Vietnamese railway officials have been suspended pending further investigation into the suspected misuse of Japanese government aid, according to Chairman of the Viet Nam Railways Corporation Tran Ngoc Thanh.
The officials were suspended after a Japanese newspaper reported that a Tokyo-based railway consulting firm had admitted to paying JPY80 million (about US$780,000) to win a $41 million railway project in Viet Nam funded by the Japanese government's official development assistance (ODA).
The accused firm, Japan Transportation Consultants, Inc (JTC), was involved in the ongoing Ha Noi City Urban Railway Construction Project (Line 1), according to the transport ministry.
Under the Viet Nam Railways Corporation's decision, Ngo Anh Tao and Tran Quoc Dong will be removed from their posts as the corporation's deputy director generals. Tao is currently in charge of the corporation's railway project management unit and Dong used to be in charge of the unit.
Tao and Dong are suspended for 10 days and must write personal reports on the period when their work related to the Ha Noi City Urban Railway Construction Project (Line 1).
The corporation also temporarily removed Tran Van Luc from his post as Director of the Viet Nam Railways Authority's railway project management unit. Luc previously worked as Director of the Viet Nam Railway Corporation's railway project management unit. His suspension will last 15 days, during which he will write a report on the period when his work related to the consulting firm.
In a March 21 article, Yomiuri Shimbun – the Japanese newspaper with the largest circulation – reported that Tamio Kakinuma, JTC's president, had admitted to paying "kickbacks" to foreign civil servants in Viet Nam, Indonesia and Uzbekistan in return for orders for five official development assistance (ODA) projects.
According to the newspaper, the illegal payments were made on some 40 occasions between 2008 and February this year and totalled JPY130 million (about $1.27 million).
Also yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc instructed ministries and agencies to investigate the case.
Phuc ordered the Ministries of Public Security, Transport and Foreign Affairs and the Supreme People's Procuracy to work with the Japanese on gathering documents and information.
The Deputy PM said the case would be prosecuted if investigators find evidence of criminal activity. — VNS