Vietnam official sentenced to life over corruption

A Vietnamese official was sentenced to life in prison for accepting bribes on a Japanese-funded road project he managed.

Last Updated: Oct 18, 2010, 18:30 PM IST

Hanoi: A Vietnamese official was
sentenced to life in prison on Monday for accepting bribes on a
Japanese-funded road project he managed, in a scandal that
prompted Japan to suspend aid for several months, state media
reported today.

Huynh Ngoc Si was convicted of receiving 262,000 USD from
executives of Pacific Consultants International, or PCI, a
Japanese company hired as consultants on the project, the
official Vietnam News Agency said. The court also ordered the
confiscation of the money received in bribes, it said.

Court officials were not available for comment today.

Si had earlier denied the charge, saying he was slandered
by the Japanese executives, but the judges rejected his claim,
saying that the court had seen sufficient evidence for the
conviction, VNA said.

VNA quoted the judges as saying Si`s bribery case cast a
negative "impact on Vietnam`s image in the international
community and the fight against corruption." It also hindered
the country`s policy to attract development loans from foreign
partners, it said.

The extent of Si`s crime is especially serious and the
amount of money paid in bribes is huge," VNA quoted the judges
as saying.

Four Japanese PCI executives pleaded guilty in a Tokyo
court in November 2008 to paying 820,000 USD in bribes to Si.

Following that case, Japan, which is Vietnam`s biggest
donor country, suspended hundreds of millions of dollars in
development loans in December 2008 and demanded that Hanoi
make more vigorous efforts to combat corruption. The aid was
resumed the next year.

Vietnam has handed down dozens of lengthy jail sentences
to corrupt officials in the past few years.

PTI