Vietnam Jails Ex-Officials in Graft Scam

Posted July 6th, 2011 at 9:50 am (UTC-5)
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A Vietnamese court has sentenced a former transport ministry chief and seven others to prison, after finding them guilty of involvement in a string of corruption scandals.

The court in Hanoi found chief defendant Bui Tien Dung and his accused accomplices guilty of siphoning more than $160,000 from a bridge construction project funded with Japanese aid. Authorities say Dung’s conviction stems from a scheme in which he was accused of signing official documents authorizing the payment of phantom salaries. Wednesday’s seven-year sentence tops a 13-year prison term he is already serving for bribery and illegal gambling.

Seven co-defendants received three-to-nine-year prison terms Wednesday for embezzling the bogus employee salaries. Authorities say the remaining defendant received a two-year sentence for using property acquired through crime.

Two journalists who helped expose corruption in Vietnam’s Transport Ministry in 2006 were arrested and prosecuted for reporting on the original scandal that implicated Dung.

One reporter was jailed for two years while the other received a two-year “re-education” sentence, triggering protests from the U.S. State Department and media rights groups outside Vietnam. Two former state police officers were also prosecuted for leaking details of the 2006 scandal to the reporters. One of the officers was jailed for a year, while the other received a formal warning.