7 former coast guard officials stand trial for $2M embezzlement

By Thanh Lam   June 26, 2023 | 11:25 pm PT
7 former coast guard officials stand trial for $2M embezzlement
Former Commander of the Vietnam Coast Guard Nguyen Van Son stands trial in Hanoi, June 27, 2023. Photo by VNA
Former chief of the Vietnam Coast Guard, Commander Nguyen Van Son, and six of his subordinates stand trial on Tuesday for alleged embezzlement of VND50 billion (US$2.1 million).

The trial at the Hanoi military court is expected to last three days.

Son, 59, Hoang Van Dong, 63, Doan Bao Quyet, 61, Pham Kim Hau, 59, Bui Trung Dung, 63, Nguyen Van Hung, 57, and Bui Van Hoe, 54, are all charged with embezzlement, with Son being deemed the mastermind.

In 2019, the Ministry of National Defense allocated a budget of VND450 billion to the Coast Guard for the year.

A third of it was allotted directly to the Department of Technology to buy equipment and materials for the Coast Guard.

Son told Hung, head of the Department of Technology at the time, to hand over VND50 billion from the VND150 billion to the Coast Guard Command.

He instructed Hoe, then the Coast Guard’s deputy of the finance, to scrap the maintenance and repair budget for four Coast Guard areas and hand over VND29 billion to the technology department, raising the department's budget to VND179 billion.

In April 2019, Son discussed with four subordinates, Dong, Quyet, Hau and Dung, the embezzlement of VND50 billion, which would be split among them. Everyone agreed.

Obeying Son’s orders, Hung asked six subordinates under his department to retain VND50 billion, saying it was Son's order and that it "must be done."

Hung allegedly instructed the six subordinate divisions to each give up between VND50 million and VND25 billion from their own funds to achieve the sum ordered by Son.

To implement Hung's plan, the heads of six divisions under the technology department divided their budget into 29 bidding packages for equipment purchase.

They asked contractors to hike the prices of equipment. In order to win the bids, participating companies had to agree to the Coast Guard’s suggestions and work with the division heads to increase materials and equipment prices or provide kickbacks.

From December 2019 to January 2020, the contractors transferred the money to the six division heads in cash. Hung then recollected the money to give to Son, who split the money between him, Dong, Hau, Quyet and Dung.

In June 2020, Hau sent a document to authorities with two recordings about his and his colleagues' involvement in the embezzlement in order to expose them.

In September 2021, five people willingly handed over VND10 billion each from the embezzled money.

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