Should corrupt people get lighter sentences for handing in ill-gotten assets? Lawmakers divided

By Viet Tuan   July 5, 2022 | 11:22 pm PT
Should corrupt people get lighter sentences for handing in ill-gotten assets? Lawmakers divided
Vietnamese policemen stand guard outside a courtroom hearing a trial involving former Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang, Hanoi, Vietnam, January 9, 2018. Photo by Reuters/Kham
National Assembly delegates differed over a proposal to hand lighter penalties to corrupt officials turning in their ill-gotten assets.

Le Minh Tri, head of the Supreme People's Procuracy, had recently mooted the proposal saying corrupt officials should be given a chance to atone while public assets are also recovered.

Trinh Xuan An, a member of the NA Committee on Security and National Defense, said while some countries follow this practice Vietnam is not yet ready for it since corruption is still entrenched and the anti-corruption campaign is ongoing.

"The consequences of corruption are too great to be equated with physical assets alone, and the goal of fighting corruption goes beyond recovering lost assets to protect public interest and foster trust among the people."

Besides, the proposal requires more consideration, he added.

But Le Nam, a former Thanh Hoa Province NA delegation head, said he "partially agreed" with Tri's proposal and there should be mechanisms to allow officials to voluntarily hand over assets acquired through graft before their crimes are discovered.

"People who hand over assets before they are caught or investigated should remain unidentified and not be punished."

People who decide to hand over their assets after they are caught could be given light sentences, he said.

Policies on recovering and monitoring assets should be amended to prevent corruption in the first place, he said, pointing out that assets are only seized after certain legal procedures are completed, giving guilty people the time to conceal them.

Tran Van Do, former deputy tribunal president of the Supreme People's Court, said while Tri's suggestion is good and the practice is prevalent in many countries, there need to be policies to preclude officials from seeing this as a way to escape punishment.

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