Public outrage after police spend traffic fines on luxury cars

By Cuu Long   June 7, 2016 | 01:48 pm GMT+7
Public outrage after police spend traffic fines on luxury cars
A Lexus 570 registered with a blue plate that only designed for central government's cars was seen parking in Soc Trang Provincial Party Committee's parking lot. Photo by A.X

People in southern province of Soc Trang are up in arms following news that local police have used money from traffic fines to buy four luxury Lexus 570s.

The purchases have caused controversy as they sail past Vietnam’s limit of VND1.1 billion for vehicles allocated to state agencies and public service units. One of the cars, which would usually cost VND5 billion each without the tax exemption, has been frequently used by a local official.

Lieutenant General Nguyen Phuc Thao, the then director of Soc Trang Police, has admitted that in 2009 he asked the Ministry of Public Security to purchase four tax-free Lexus 570s worth VND6 billion in total, with money raised from traffic fines.

According to Thao, the Provincial Party Committee only had a Toyota Land Cruiser to transport central delegations during their visits to Soc Trang, while many localities in the region had bought new cars for this purpose.

“It was not until 2011, after I had been transferred to the General Department of Security, the provincial police were finally given permission to buy the cars,” said the Lieutenant General.

He added that in the proposal, two of the vehicles would be used to escort central official convoys during their visits. The other cars would be handed over to Soc Trang's Party Committee and People’s Committee for a similar purpose.

A Lexus 570 registered with a blue police plate on a street in Soc Trang. Photo by VnExpress/A.X

A Lexus 570 registered with a blue police plate on a street in Soc Trang. Photo by VnExpress/A.X

 

However, speaking to VnExpress, chief of the provincial People's Committee Ngo Thai Chan said they had never used any of the four cars. “The provincial police initially planned to hand over the vehicles, but we declined," said Chan.

A representative of Soc Trang's Party Committee also dismissed the claims. “The police have never given us the cars, and only send them out on official committee business,” said head of Soc Trang’s Party Committee Trieu Cong Tinh.

According to a circular by the Ministry of Finance, 70 percent of fines collected from traffic violations should be allocated to police forces to use to maintain social order and traffic safety.

But according to an attorney, Soc Trang Police have misused the money by buying expensive vehicles. He also cited the Law on Management and Use of State Property, stipulating that: “State property must be invested, equipped and used for proper purposes, strictly according to the prescribed criteria, norms and regulations, ensuring equity, efficiency and economy.”

"These cars were purchased to escort high-level delegations. The fact that one of them is being used frequently by a local official is a misuse of state property," said the attorney.