The Court of Appeals under the Supreme People’s Court on April 22 opened a hearing in Hanoi for Duong Chi Dung, former Chairman of the Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines), and his accomplices.

The accused were indicted at a hearing on December 16, 2013 for embezzlement and intentionally violating State regulations on economic management causing severe consequences.

The trial is scheduled to last till April 24, with a jury of three judges from the Supreme People’s Court.

As many as 16 lawyers are present on the first day of the hearing to defend the nine appellants.

The Hanoi People’s Court on December 16, 2013 sentenced Dung and former Vinalines General Director Mai Van Phuc to death for embezzlement, and an 18-year imprisonment for intentionally violating State regulations on economic management causing severe consequences.

Tran Huu Chieu, former Vice General Director of Vinalines, was sentenced to 19 years behind bars; while Tran Hai Son, Director of Vinalines Ship Repair Co. Ltd, got 22 years in jail on the same charges.

The court also handed sentences of four years in prison to Bui Thi Bich Loan, Vinalines’ former chief accountant; and seven years to Mai Van Khang, a member of the Vinalines project management board, and Le Van Duong, a former official at the Vietnam Registry.

Huynh Huu Duc, Le Ngoc Trien and Le Van Lung, former officials at Van Phong Customs Office, the central province of Khanh Hoa , were sentenced to eight years behind bars.

In addition, Dung and Phuc were ordered to pay back 20 billion VND (950,000 USD) they had embezzled and have to pay Vinalines 100 billion VND (4.7 million USD) for the damage they had caused.

Chieu has to pay over 39 billion VND (1.83 million USD); Son, over 46 billion VND (2.16 million USD); Khang, 12 billion VND (564,000 USD); Loan, 6 billion VND (282,000 USD); Duong, over 15 billion VND (705,000 USD); and Duc, Trieu and Lung, 9 billion VND (423,000 USD) each.

Moreover, the court decided to seize Dung’s three houses in Hanoi and Phuc’s house in Quang Ninh province.

Nine out of the 10 accused appealed against the indictment by the Hanoi People’s Court last year.

According to the indictment issued at the court, during 2007-2008, Dung and his accomplices violated regulations on investment, bidding and customs procedures for import and export through the purchase and repair of Floating Dock 83M. The malpractice caused losses of 366.9 billion VND (17.2 million USD) to the State budget.

In the deal, Dung and three others, namely Mai Van Phuc, Tran Huu Chieu and Tran Hai Son, appropriated 1.666 million USD.

The indictment said while knowing that the floating dock, built in 1965, was damaged and had not been in use since 2006, and that the owner offered a negotiable price of under 5 million USD, Dung still signed Decision 186/QD-HDQT on February 15, 2008, approving the purchase of the dock at a price tag of 9 million USD from an intermediary, the Singapore-based AP company, which bought the dock from its real owner at only 2.3 million USD.

Dung was arrested on September 4, 2012 after several months on the run./.