Law

Ex-minister jailed for 10 years for role in expressway fraud

Dinh La Thang, who served as Minister of Transport between August 2011 and February 2016, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the bidding and accounting fraud in the HCMC-Trung Luong Expressway project, a major toll road in southern Vietnam.

Dinh La Thang (center), who served as Minister of Transport between August 2011 and February 2016 (Photo: VNA)

Dinh La Thang (center), who served as Minister of Transport between August 2011 and February 2016 (Photo: VNA)

The sentence was given down on December 22 by the People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City at the first instance trial on the case which started on December 14.
Although Thang did not admit guilty to his charge of “violating regulations on the management and use of State assets, causing waste and losses,” the judge council said his violations were clearly seen in documents submitted to him by his subordinates, or those signed by him.
Thang’s unlawful acts had created the conditions for Dinh Ngoc He to commit frauds and appropriate assets, the judges said, affirming that the former official must bear the main responsibility in the case and as such, a stricter penalty than those for his subordinates at the transport ministry.
Together with the previous sentence for him in another case, Thang will have to serve a total 30 years in prison.
Nguyen Hong Truong, who was Deputy Minister of Transport from April 2007 to August 2017, was sentenced to four years and six months in prison also on the charge of “violating regulations on the management and use of State assets, causing waste and losses,” under Article 219 of the 2015 Penal Code.
Five other accomplices of Thanh, who were former officials at the transport ministry or Cuu Long company, got sentences ranging from two years to four years in prison.
Meanwhile, Dinh Ngoc He, alias Ut Troc, former Deputy Director-General of Thai Son Corporation under the Ministry of National Defence, got a life sentence on the charge of “fraud, appropriation of assets” and 13 years in prison for “abuse of position and power to influence others for personal gain,” with the aggregate sentence of life in prison.
The other 12 defendants charged with “fraud, appropriation of assets” were given imprisonments ranging from 10 years in prison to two years suspended sentence.
According to the indictment of the Supreme People’s Procuracy, the HCM City-Trung Luong Expressway project was funded by the State budget, so the toll collection right belongs to the State and the money earned from the sale of the right is the State’s asset.
In his capacity as transport minister, Thang created conditions for Ngoc He’s company to win the bidding for the expressway toll collection right although Thang was aware that that the company was operating at a loss and had no financial capacity.
Ngoc He used falsified documents for the bidding, and after winning it, he continued to commit fraudulent acts aiming to appropriate State assets.
Other defendants who were subordinates of Thang violated regulations on bidding to let He win the bidding. Their acts created the conditions for He to appropriate tolls worth more than VND725 billion.
The construction of the 62km-long HCMC-Trung Luong expressway started in 2004 and the route was commissioned in 2010.

Vietnamplus

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