Vietnam Coast Guard commanders on trial for taking bribes

By Thanh Lam   July 12, 2022 | 05:00 am PT
Vietnam Coast Guard commanders on trial for taking bribes
Major General Le Van Minh (2nd, R), Commander of the Coast Guard Zone 4, stands trial in Hanoi on July 12, 2022 for taking bribes from a gasoline smuggling ring. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Lam
Two Coast Guard commanders are standing trial in Hanoi after being charged with accepting VND8.7 billion ($372,000) in bribes from a gasoline smuggling ring.

The trial of Major General Le Van Minh, 57, Commander of the Coast Guard Zone 4 and Major General Le Xuan Thanh, 61, Commander of Coast Guard Zone 3, is expected to last three days.

Minh is accused of taking VND6.9 billion from Phan Thanh Huu, the leader of the ring accused of smuggling gasoline from Singapore, while Thanh is said to have taken VND1.8 billion.

Minh said he'd known Huu for a long time but had thought that he was a genuine businessman.

He admitted that he had exchanged information about ship coordinates with Huu but did not realize that he was helping him with the smuggling.

According to prosecutors, Huu came to know Thanh and his wife Phan Thi Xuan through Minh.

He had his son bring cash to Xuan at the latter’s house in Vung Tau many times between March 2020 and January 2021.

Xuan let her husband know the first time the cash was delivered. Since he did not comment on it, she did not inform him about the other occasions.

"After seeking help and giving money to Thanh and his wife, Huu's people were no longer inspected or arrested by the Coast Guard Zone 3 under Thanh’s management," prosecutors said.

The gasoline was smuggled from Singapore into Vietnam through the southern and central coasts that the Coast Guard Zones 3 and 4 are in charge of.

After their arrests in the case, Minh and Thanh paid back the money they have been accused of accepting as bribes.

Huu and 72 others in his ring were prosecuted early this month for smuggling. They were not investigated for giving bribes as they reported it before being discovered.

The ring smuggled more than 204 million liters of gasoline between March 2020 and February 2021, making hundreds of billions of dong in profit. Huu himself pocketed more than VND105 billion, the court heard.

Vietnam has disciplined nearly 168,000 Communist Party members in its 10-year anti-corruption campaign since 2012. High-ranking officials including ministers and military commanders, and business tycoons have been jailed.

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