Official related to PCI corruption case arrested

Published: 21/03/2010 05:00



The former Director and Deputy Director of the ODA-funded HCM City East-West Avenue and Water Environment Project Management Board were arrested on February 11 for abuse of position and power.

Huynh Ngoc Si (white) was arrested on February 11.

The arrest of Huynh Ngoc Sy and Le Qua, former director and deputy director of the project, produced a stir because it was previously said that the case might be thrown out.

During this Tet, it was rumoured that Sy had gone to Canada for medical treatment though he was banned from leaving Vietnam by the Immigration Management Agency under the Ministry of Public Security.

The case attracts special attention because it has connections to the corruption case of Tokyo-based Pacific Consultants International (PCI) Company. Some officials of PCI were prosecuted and convicted of “graft” and “violating Japan’s competition law”.

This is a big scandal in Japan and Vietnam as well, as it was related to a Vietnamese official, Huynh Ngoc Sy.

On Dec. 8, 2008, in reply to a judicial mandate by the Tokyo Procuracy, the investigative agency launched an investigation into Sy and Qua’s connections to an alleged corruption case involving officials from PCI.

According to the results of the investigation, Sy and Qua abused their positions by renting the East-West Avenue project management board’s office building to PCI and pocketing tens of thousands of US dollars that had been paid in advance by PCI.

On November 19, 2008, Huynh Ngoc Si was suspended from his job. In late December 2008, Japan sent case reports to the Vietnamese Supreme People’s Procuracy.

The case went to trial on December 8.

Si and Qua will remain in custody for four months to serve investigation. According to some sources, Si and Qua will be investigated for leasing part of the office of the East-West Avenue and Water Environment Project Management Board to PCI to earn money and problems related to site clearance and compensation in implementing the above project.

Huynh Ngoc Si, 56, was the Director of the HCM City Volunteer Company from 1995-1999. From 1999 to October 2000, he was the vice chief of the HCM City Volunteer Forces. He then held the position of Deputy Director of the Transport and Director of the East-West Avenue and Water Environment Project beginning in October 2000.

The East-West Avenue has a total length of 21,890km. Its construction was kicked off on January 31, 2005 after nearly eight years for preparation and site clearance. The total investment capital in this work is nearly VND9,864 billion (around US$616.5 million), including VND6,394 billion of ODA capital from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the remaining from HCM City’s budget.

The East-West Avenue tops the ten key construction works which have poor quality that were reported to the Prime Minister in 2008 by the State Council for Evaluating Construction Works.

Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Hong Phuc talked with Tien Phong Newspaper about the arrest of Huynh Ngoc Sy and Japanese ODA for Vietnam.

Is it true that Japan will resume granting ODA to Vietnam in April 2009?

We can’t affirm whether Japan will resume its ODA grants to Vietnam in March or April. That information is incorrect and nobody can verify it yet.

What could you say about the arrest of Huynh Ngoc Si for his connection to the PCI corruption case?

I have no comment at this moment. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung is about to visit Japan and at that time I will have a comment.

If Huynh Ngoc Sy is convicted for making mistakes in the PCI case and penalised, what is the possibility Japan will resume granting ODA to Vietnam?

If Sy is found to have committed crimes, he must be strictly punished under the law. We are determined to deal with this case not because of ODA, but to show our determination to combat corruption.

The development of PCI case in Japan:

February 11, 2009: Former Chairman of PCI, Masayoshi Taga, 63, went on trial.

January 29, 2009: The court sentenced the former Managing Director of PCI, Kunio Takasu, 65, to 20 months in jail; former Director Haruo Sakashita, 62, to two years in jail; former chief representative of PCI in Hanoi, Tsuneo Sakano, 59, to 18 months in jail. However, the execution of the sentences will be delayed for three years. PCI was fined JPY70 million (nearly US$800,000).

December 4-5, 2008: Japan announced it would be suspending its ODA grants for Vietnam because of the PCI case at the Consultative Group Meeting (CG).

November 11, 2008, in the first trial, defendants admitted to bribe Huynh Ngoc Si $820,000.

In late September 2008, Vietnam and Japan agreed to set up the Vietnam-Japan Joint Committee to combat and prevent corruption in Japanese ODA-funded projects.

In late August 2008: the PCI corruption case related to PCI officials’ graft of $820,000 to Huynh Ngoc Si went to court. Previously, they were accused of grafting a total of $2.43 million.

In mid-August 2008, Japan asked for Vietnam’s cooperation to investigate the PCI scandal.

August 15, 2008: the Japanese Foreign Ministry banned PCI from taking part in any overseas project which is funded by Japanese ODA.

August 4, 2008: four PCI officials were arrested. Japanese agencies released for the first time the names of the four PCI officials and Huynh Ngoc Si was suspected of having taken bribes from these officials.

In late June 2008: Japanese investigators began their probe of the PCI case, but they didn’t announce the names of suspects in Japan and Vietnam.


Related News:

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Criminal proceedings taken against East-West avenue scandal

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Japanese Ambassador: more evidence in PCI case being uncovered

PCI obstructing ODA for Vietnam is momentary

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