The HCM City People’s Court on Sept. 24 began the trial of 87 people accused of various violations in carrying out the East-West Highway and City Water Environment Improvement project.

Huynh Ngoc Si, 56, former deputy director of HCM City’s Department of Transport and former manager of the project; and his deputy, Le Qua, were charged with “abuse of power”.

Si and Qua allegedly misappropriated funds earned from leasing a State-owned house on Nguyen Thi Dieu Street in District 3 to Japan’s Pacific Consultants International (PCI).

The money received from the contract between August 2001 and November 2002, estimated at around 1.2 billion VND (66,500 USD), was not submitted to the state budget but disbursed among 87 officials working in the project.

Si took 52 million VND and Qua took 54 million VND from the “mission”. The two officials also used 350 million VND for “treating guests”.

The two officials confessed to the court that they had received money 42 times from the leasing contract.
Si maintained that he was not guilty of fraud, only of not being “clear-headed” and not taking the right decision. He said the money was not taken by himself but distributed among 87 staff members.
The officials have given 1.1 billion VND back to the Government after the case came to light following the Japanese Government’s suggestion that Vietnam investigates allegations of PCI officials paying bribes to be selected contractor for the project.

The panel of judges is expected to pass sentences on the defendants on Sept. 25./.