Coast Guard commanders jailed for taking bribes from fuel smugglers

By Thanh Lam    July 15, 2022 | 08:15 pm PT
Coast Guard commanders jailed for taking bribes from fuel smugglers
Major General Le Van Minh (C), Commander of the Coast Guard Zone 4, listens as a military court announces his sentence in Hanoi, July 15, 2022. Photo by the court
Two Coast Guard commanders have been sentenced to 15 and 12 years in prison for taking bribes from a gasoline smuggling ring.

On Friday Major General Le Van Minh, 57, chief of Zone 4, got 15 years while Major General Le Xuan Thanh, 61, head of Zone 3, got 12 years from a military court in Hanoi.

Prosecutors had said Minh took VND6.9 billion (nearly US$295,000) from Phan Thanh Huu, the leader of a gang accused of smuggling gasoline from Singapore, while Thanh took VND1.8 billion to "protect" the smuggling activities "for a long time involving many consignments per month."

Colonel Nguyen The Anh, 49, head of the Border Guard in the southern province of Kien Giang, was sentenced to life in prison for "taking bribes" and "organizing others to flee abroad illegally."

Prosecutors said he had received VND19 billion from the same gang, and, when it was busted, had instructed and helped members flee abroad.

When the gang was operating, Anh held many important positions, including that of deputy office chief of the National Steering Committee for Anti-smuggling, Counterfeit Goods and Trade Fraud.

Colonel Phung Danh Thoai, 57, head of the petroleum unit in the Coast Guard’s logistics department, got seven years for "smuggling."

He had paid the gang VND5 billion and received a payoff of VND22.3 billion within 16 months.

Ten others were sentenced from six months and 21 days to 16 years for "taking bribes" and "failing to report crimes."

Huu and his son had met a number of officials since September 2019 and offered to pay them monthly bribes.

They smuggled gasoline from Singapore into Vietnam through the southern and central coasts, which are guarded by the Coast Guard Zones 3 and 4.

By February last year, Huu had paid bribes of VND38 billion to Coast Guard and Border Guard officials.

Huu and 72 other gang members were prosecuted earlier this month for smuggling but not for paying bribes since they volunteered the information.

They managed to smuggle more than 204 million liters of gasoline between March 2020 and February 2021, earning hundreds of billions of dong.

Huu alone pocketed more than VND105 billion.

Vietnam has disciplined nearly 168,000 Communist Party members in its 10-year anti-corruption campaign since 2012.

A number of senior people including ministers and military commanders, and business tycoons have been jailed.

The campaign continues.

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