The sentences were announced yesterday, the second day of trial, when the jury suddenly converted the defendants’ charges from “taking bribes” to “abusing position and power to appropriate assets”.
The jury said that after re-considering the nature of the case, they decided to change the charges since the contractors had actively given the money to the former auditors.
With the charges converted, Nguyen Van Quyen, 38, received 10 years imprisonment while his three accomplices, Ngo Quang Dang, 36, Ngo Hong Minh, 30, and Nguyen Quang Thanh, 42, were sentenced to 8, 7 and 3 years in prison respectively. All of the four defendants are from Hanoi.
If the charges had been kept unchanged, the defendant would have faced higher penalties ranging from 7-8 years to 16-17 years imprisonment.
In July 2010, the four men were assigned to audit construction projects funded by the government bond capital in Quang Ngai in 2006-2009. They discovered wrongdoings by contractors in relation to expenses for the projects.
Quyen, head of the audit team, suggested that the infringing contractors give them VND680 million ($35,500) in exchange for ignoring the wrongdoings.
The contractors reported the case to police.
On August 14, 2010, when the auditors were receiving the money from the contractors in a room at Hung Vuong hotel in the province, police rushed in.
In response to the court’s conversion of charges, the provincial People’s Procuracy told VTC News yesterday that the agency would hold a meeting to discuss whether it will protest against the verdict or not.