Six ex-railway officials, who were found sharing a total of 11 billion VND (504,000 USD) in kickbacks from a Japanese consultant firm in relation to an ODA-funded urban railway project in Hanoi from 2009-2014, have been prosecuted on the charge of “abusing position and power while performing official duties”.

The accused include Pham Hai Bang, 46; Pham Quang Duy, 40, both former Deputy Director of the Railway Project Management Unit (RPMU) under the state-owned Vietnam Railways Corporation (VRC); Tran Quoc Dong, 51, former Deputy Director General of the VRC and former director of RPMU; Tran Van Luc, 57; and Nguyen Van Hieu, 53 – both former RPMU directors; and Nguyen Nam Thai, 38, former Head of the RPMU’s Project Office 3;

According to the charges, Bang complained about financial difficulties in executing the projects to the Japan Transportation Consultants Inc. (JTC) which led a consultancy joint venture of Vietnamese and Japanese companies, and JTC agreed to provide support. Bang assigned Duy and Thai to receive the money under-the-table from the JTC from September 2009-February 2014.

According to Japan’s investigation, the JTC handed a total of 11 billion VND to Duy and Thai on 15 occasions.

Of the amount, Bang kept 4.8 billion VND (220,000 USD), Thai pocketed 3.4 billion VND (146,000 USD) and Duy collected 2.8 billion VND (134,000 USD).

The officials said they had spent the amount on expenses related to signing contracts, entertainment, external activities, meetings, vacation trips for railway staff and others. All the spending was not documented. In addition, Luc, Dong and Hieu received money as gifts from Bang on the occasion of the Lunar New Year festival.

After the arrest, they submitted 1.765 billion VND (84,000 USD) and 7,000 USD as a remedy for their offense.

The investigation began after Yomiuri Shimbun – Japan’s biggest newspaper – reported that Tamio Kakinuma, JTC President, had admitted to paying kickbacks to foreign civil servants in Vietnam, Indonesia and Uzbekistan in return for orders for five official development assistance projects.-VNA