Vietnamese gang charged for bribing police to get free passes for overloaded trucks

By Hai Duyen   June 11, 2017 | 10:58 am GMT+7

The gang said they paid off 80 police officers, but none of them admitted to receiving any money.

Vietnamese prosecutors have pressed charges against 10 people for bribing traffic police to ignore overloaded trucks, but no officers have been charged due to "a lack of evidence".

An investigation found that the gang, aged between 27 and 50, hooked up with traffic police and inspectors in 2014 to start the scheme.

Having reached an agreement, the ring produced special logos for the officers to recognize and sold them to truck owners in Ho Chi Minh City and the nearby industrial provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai for a monthly fee of VND2.5-3 million ($110-132).

They made nearly VND23 billion in around a year before the operation was busted. They said they had paid 80 officers VND5 billion to not check the trucks carrying the logos, but none of the officers identified by the group admitted to receiving any money.

Investigators said there was not enough evidence to prosecute the officers.

Overloaded trucks are often blamed for major road accidents in Vietnam, but to cut expenses, many businesses break the rules and pay police officers for indemnity.

Last year, three senior traffic police officers in the southern city of Can Tho were arrested for allegedly accepting bribes worth nearly $160,000 from local businesses to give overloaded trucks a free pass.

Bribery is a frustrating problem in Vietnam, one that “has degraded society and influences policy-making”, said a top lawmaker at a meeting this month.

A survey conducted by the Berlin-based Transparency International earlier this year of more than 20,000 people in 16 Asia Pacific economies found the highest rates of bribery in Vietnam and India.

The Governance and Public Administration Performance Index, which interviewed around 14,000 residents in all 63 Vietnamese provinces and cities in April, also highlighted “noticeable spikes” in reports of bribes given for everything from civil service positions to good grades. Around 54 percent of respondents said bribes were required to get government jobs, up from 51 percent in 2015 and 46 percent in 2011.