Vessel captain maintains innocence in $130m petrol smuggling case

November, 01/2022 - 17:47
Lê Đình Hùng said the transportation process followed international practices and that he did not know the petrol was being illegally smuggled.
Defendant Lê Đình Hùng at the trial. — Photo plo.vn

ĐỒNG NAI — The US$130 million petrol smuggling trial continued on Tuesday, focusing on the role of the vessel's captain Lê Đình Hùng.

Hùng maintains his innocence.

He said the transportation process followed international practices and that he did not know the petrol was being illegally smuggled.

The 42-year-old defendant said: "It was unfair to be prosecuted for smuggling as I did not participate in any discussion, put in any money or profit from the case. I did not do anything wrong and I am innocent."

He said that according to his labour contract, he answered to the vessel owner Nguyễn Minh Khoa, who is the director of Thuận Phát Shipping Investment Co. Ltd. in Hải Phòng City.

Hùng was assigned to take the ship to Singapore to transport petrol to Việt Nam over 30 trips, each carrying 4.8 million litres of petrol.

Hùng transported nearly 145 million litres of petrol in this case.

However, according to the Đồng Nai Provincial People's Procuracy, Lê Đình Hùng headed the smuggling vessel on 30 trips from Singapore to Việt Nam, transporting a total of more than 157 million litres.

Regarding this difference, Hùng argued his testimony had been amended and alleged that he was under coercion during interrogation in an attempt by investigators to 'match' his actions with other defendants.

During the trial, the provincial People's Procuracy representative had to go through Hùng's testimony records multiple times due to inconsistencies in the investigation and at the court.

The agency also explained that Hùng played a role in the case as a transporter and can therefore be prosecuted for assisting smuggling but not as an instigator.

The case involves more than 74 defendants. The trial started on October 25 and is expected to last up to 60 days.

The defendants are being prosecuted for smuggling nearly 200 million litres of petrol worth VNĐ2.9 trillion ($130 million) from Singapore to Việt Nam. — VNS

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