The Hanoi People’s Court Monday sentenced a former government official to five years in jail for pocketing money from a government project targeted to computerize public offices across the country.
Defendants stand during their trial on Jan 25, 2010.
Former deputy chief of the Government Office, Vu Dinh Thuan, and 22 other officials were involved in the corruption in Project 112, a failed computerization initiative for the 2001-2005 period.
Thuan, who doubles as the project’s chief, was sentenced to five years with “abuse of power” charges.
The project’s secretary, Luong Cao Son, and Nguyen Thuy Ha, the director of an IT company, got six years each.
Son was convicted as the mastermind behind the wrongdoings that caused losses of VND4.65 billion (US$252,000) to the state funds.
Other defendants were sentenced between 18 months’ probation and 30 months in jail.
The sentences given to Thuan and other officials were lesser than previously proposed by procurators.
According to the judges, Thuan had violated bidding regulations when he made purchases for the project, causing losses of $252,000, of which he pocketed some VND275 million ($14,900).
Son pocketed VND749 million ($40,552) in the scam, they said.
According to the Supreme People’s Procuracy, most of the 23 defendants were Party members, some held high-ranking positions.
Project 112, approved by the prime minister in 2001, was supposed to install integrated software at administrative offices throughout Vietnam, train officials and link all agencies to a single computer network.
The government had poured VND685 billion ($37 million) into the project as of December 30, 2005.
In 2007, inspectors discovered the project’s head and secretary had connived with several other state officials to inflate the cost of printing training material for the project in order to pocket the difference.
The pair also allegedly received kickbacks from several IT companies and printing companies belonging to Vietnam Book Corporation for awarding the contracts to the companies.
Several members of the project’s management board awarded IT training and service contracts to their relatives.
In April 2007, the government cancelled the project because of the misconduct.