HÀ NỘI — Six men have been prosecuted for bribery in a protection racket that ramped up billions of đồng from truck drivers to avoid traffic offences, Hà Nội police announced on Sunday.
Following extended investigations in late July, police accused Nguyễn Anh Hào, 38, Lê Văn Cường, 39 and 26-year-old Phạm Văn Vinh of offering bribes.
Three former traffic inspectors including Lê Bá Dũng, 45, Nguyễn Quốc Cương, 46 and Trần Sỹ Cương, 35, were charged with taking bribes.
According to the police, in March, 2016, Cường – a former official of the Roads Management I Department under the Directorate for Roads of Việt Nam – teamed up with Hào and Vinh to design and print logos of the Tuấn Vinh Trade and Transport Investment JSC. Vinh was the director general of the company.
Their purpose was to make the logo an indicator for corrupt traffic police officers to ignore violations by vehicles carrying it.
Drivers who sought such protection had to make monthly payments to the trio for the logo.
In the first few months, Cường spent VNĐ100 million (US$4,300) while Hào chipped in VNĐ50 million to establish connections with traffic police. Vinh, meanwhile, paid VNĐ35 million a month for the protection of over 10 trucks of his own company.
The business started growing in January 1, 2018 when several drivers realised the logo helped them avoid fines. Hào was said to offer protection to between 80 and 90 vehicles and Vinh had about 40-50 trucks under his watch. The two men collected VNĐ300 million and VNĐ200 million a month respectively.
Hào and Vinh admitted the total amount earned from the drivers reached nearly VNĐ14 billion ($608,700), while more than VNĐ12 billion was spent to grease the wheels. They had all levels of connections from traffic police in districts to city inspectors.
They said that they gave VNĐ440 million to the traffic officers each month when they met at a café or the officers’ workplaces.
Hà Nội police’s investigation, however, only determined the amount at VNĐ295 million. Nguyễn Quốc Cương, former traffic inspector of Hai Bà Trưng District, received VNĐ63 million, Lê Bá Dũng, former inspector in Hoàng Mai District, took VNĐ96 million while Trần Sỹ Cương, a former mobile police inspector of the city Department of Transport, got the lion's share of about VNĐ136 million. — VNS