A People’s Supreme Procuracy senior official on Thursday continued to beat about the bush when being grilled about a corruption scandal involving a Ho Chi Minh infrastructure project that led to the suspension of Japanese aid to Vietnam late last year.
People’s Supreme Procuracy deputy chief, Nguyen Van Nga
Khuat Van Nga, the deputy chief of Vietnam’s highest prosecution agency, told a press conference he hoped the corruption case would be brought to light as soon as possible.
The scandal broke out at the East-West Highway and the Water Environment Improvement projects in Ho Chi Minh City, which were funded by Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA).
Huynh Ngoc Si, the former director of the projects, and his deputy Le Qua, were arrested on February 11, after the Ministry of Public Security began a corruption investigation into the two infrastructure projects, estimated to cost US$930.9 million.
But that investigation only came about after an official request by the Tokyo Procuracy, when PCI executives admitted in a Tokyo court they had bribed the former director of the projects to win consulting contracts.
The two officials were sentenced to three and two years in prison on Sept 25, but under “abuse of power” charges.
The sentences prompted a public outcry about the ignorance of “corruption” allegations against Vietnamese officials made by Japanese authorities.
According to Nga, Japan sent 3,050 pages of document regarding the PCI case to the People’s Supreme Procuracy in both English and Japanese late last year.
But it wasn’t until recently that the Vietnamese procurators announced they had finished the translation.
Nga also admitted Japan’s document provided “sufficient information” about the scandal.
He said the possibility of reopening corruption investigations against the Vietnamese officials was high.
Last December, Japan suspended its aid funding to Vietnam until the government took "meaningful" steps to eliminate corruption in public works programs.
Japan’s ODA program to Vietnam was resumed in early April.