Borrower made illiterate man chief of HCMC vehicle registration center

By Quoc Thang   January 4, 2023 | 08:53 pm PT
Borrower made illiterate man chief of HCMC vehicle registration center
Ho Huu Tai, director of a private vehicle registration center in HCMC's Nha Be District, listens as an officer reads the decision to arrest him in Ho Chi Minh City, January 4, 2022. Photo by police
Ho Huu Tai cannot read or write but worked as the chief of a private vehicle registration center in Ho Chi Minh City belonging to a man who owes him money.

When the police raided 50-17D automotive registration center in Nha Be District on December 19 to uncover possible violations, they found its director, Tai, 52, was illiterate.

He admitted he had dropped out of third grade, Ministry of Public Security spokesman Major General To An Xo said Tuesday.

The center's deputy director, Tran Thanh Vinh, reportedly oversees all registration-related activities and signs off on certificates.

The police said Wednesday the center is privately owned and belongs to Nguyen Thanh Phong, 42, chairman of An Phat Invest JSC, in 2019.

Before 2019 all vehicle registration centers were state agencies.

Then the government allowed private operators to set them up if they met certain conditions.

During the Covid pandemic, 50-17D suffered losses and Phong had to borrow money from Tai.

In return, in 2021 he made Tai the center’s director and transferred part of its ownership to him.

The two of them reportedly instructed the six registrars, including deputy director Tran Thanh Vinh, to take bribes and register vehicles even if they failed to meet requirements.

When they detected an error, the registrars would tell the vehicle owner to meet Dinh Thanh Trung, 30, who would directly demand a bribe to register the vehicle.

Phong hired Trung, 30, without any contract.

When the police raided the place Trung admitted he had just received a bribe of VND20 million ($856). He said most of it would go to Phong and Tai, and the rest would be divided between himself and the registrars.

The police have taken in Phong, Tai, Trung, and the six registrars.

Vietnam Register official, who asked not to be named, told VnExpress that a 2018 government decree makes director of registration centers responsible for inspection and registration of vehicles.

They must be motor vehicle registrars with at least 36 months’ experience.

But the official admitted there are registration centers that operate like a company, and "The investor of the center chooses the director of the center and therefore there have been cases in which the leaders are not capable."

In the last few weeks police and officers from the Ministry of Public Security have raided a number of vehicle inspection centers in HCMC and the provinces of Long An, Tien Giang, Soc Trang, Dong Thap, Ben Tre, Bac Giang, and Bac Ninh to uncover violations related to certification, technical safety inspection and environmental protection.

In HCMC they have obtained 13 search warrants, launched investigations into six centers and questioned 43 officials for "bribery" and "forgery of documents."

There are 280 vehicle registration centers in the country, 196 of them private.

The rest are either under the Vietnam Register or the local Department of Transport.

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