Former Vinalines leader denies responsibility in corruption case

Hanoi People’s Court started to hear Duong Chi Dung’s corruption case at Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines), along with those of his nine accomplices on December 12.

Duong Chi Dung and nine defendants

Duong Chi Dung and nine defendants

Duong Chi Dung, 56, the ex-chairman of Vinalines and former head of the Vietnam Maritime Administration, was accused of being the mastermind in the major scandal at the state-owned corporation. He may face 15 to 20 years in jail for the approval of a ship repair factory project and buying the aging Floating Dock 83M, causing losses to the state budget of VND367 billion (USD17.38 million).

His accomplices include Mai Van Phuc, Vinalines’ former General Director, Tran Hai Son, former deputy head of the managing board of southern ship repairing factory project, Tran Huu Chieu, Vinalines’ former deputy director, Bui Thi Bich Loan, former head of Vinalines’ financial and accounting department, Le Van Duong, a registrar at the Vietnam Registry, Huynh Huu Duc, deputy head of a customs sub-department in Khanh Hoa Province, Le Van Lung, a cargo inspector at the sub-department, and Le Ngoc Trien, a record officer at the sub-department.

After the indictment was announced, Duong Chi Dung was the first to be questioned. At first he admitted some wrongdoings but then he started to deny responsibility.

Concerning the approval of a project to build a southern ship repairing factory, Dung passed the responsibility on to the Vinalines’ Board of Directors. When the case was brought to light, he admitted that he had made a mistake by approving the project.

Dung said that he received a proposal from Vinalines’ former General Director Mai Van Phuc but did not have any participation in the purchase of Floating Dock 83M. Dung claimed that he was not aware of the deal until afterwards.

He admitted that he knew about the decay of the floating dock but Phuc said that it was “minor”.

Regarding his fleeing from justice, he said that he decided to go to Cambodia and the US because he panicked when he heard about the prosecution. At that time, he had a visa to the US, but was not admitted entry.

Mai Van Phuc also denied his responsibility. He said that he was only employed at the company for two months when the project to buy the floating dock began, so he needed the advice of Tran Huu Chieu, Vinalines’ former Deputy General Director.

Phuc went on to say that he was compelled to turn a blind eye to the purchase of the aging dock, because Duong Chi Dung had threatened to fire him.

Tran Huu Chieu admitted that he found some problems with the Floating Dock 83M, but also said they were “minor”. His statement was considered as sincere by the court.

Tran Hai Son, former General Director of Vinalines Ship-Repairing Company admitted the accusations in the indictment. He said that he received a request by the management of AP Company, who sold the dock, that Duong Chi Dung assigned him to receive the “commission” worth USD1.6 million. He came to Dung’s office to confirm the request and Dung said that Dung and Phuc would receive VND10 billion (USD473,596) each from the deal.

Duong Chi Dung denied Son’s statement at the court.

Dung also denied using money he received from the deal to buy two luxury apartments for his girlfriend.

The court continues to hear the case today, December 13.

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