Vietnam arrests official in bribery case

HANOI - Another senior Vietnamese railway official has been arrested for his role in an alleged US$780,000 (25.35 million baht) bribery case involving a Hanoi urban railway project funded by Japanese official development assistance, a local newspaper reported Friday.

The Tuoi Tre daily, in its online edition, said police detained Tran Van Luc, the suspended director of the Railway Project Management Unit (RPMU) under the Vietnam Railway Authority (VNRA) on Thursday, bringing the number of railway officials detained in recent days to five.

Tokyo-based Japan Transportation Consultants Inc (JTC) said April 25 that a report by an independent panel found that the company paid a total of 160 million yen (51 million baht) in kickbacks to officials involved in projects in Vietnam, Indonesia and Uzbekistan between 2009 and 2014. Its payments in Vietnam to secure an ODA-funded project order were estimated at 66 million yen.

Tuoi Tre reported that Mr Luc has been charged with "abusing positions and/or powers while performing official duties."

On Monday, the VNRA suspended Mr Luc from his post, asking him to report on his involvement in the building of railway line No. 1 of the Hanoi urban railway project. Mr Luc was the management unit director of the project from 2000 to 2009.

Tran Quoc Dong, a deputy general director of the state-owned Vietnam Railways Corp, Pham Quang Duy and Pham Hai Bang, who are deputy directors of the RPMU, and Nguyen Nam Thai, head of the corporation's project office 3, were arrested the previous weekend.

Tuoi Tre reported Wednesday that all four were arrested after they "generally admitted their lawbreaking acts" when summoned by investigators for questioning.

A special squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office is said to be probing JTC over the alleged kickbacks, as bribing a foreign official constitutes a violation of the law to stem unfair competition.

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