Mon, Apr 09, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Three more arrests in Vietnam shipping scandal

AFP, HANOI

Vietnamese police have arrested three more suspects as part of a widening scandal in the country’s shipping industry, an official said yesterday.

The deputy director general of state-owned shipping giant Vinalines, 53-year-old Bui Quoc Anh, was detained on Friday for embezzlement along with two others including a state auditor, a company official said.

Local media reports identified the third suspect as an executive at a subsidiary of Vinalines, which is the country’s biggest sea shipping group, operating a fleet of oil tankers, container ships and other vessels.

The arrests were based on investigations involving one of nine former top executives at scandal-tainted shipbuilder Vinashin jailed last month for intentionally violating state regulations, the official said.

He gave no further details, but the official Thanh Nien newspaper reported yesterday that the three new suspects pocketed “billions of dong [tens of thousands of US dollars] for personal gain” when buying a container ship.

The scandal at Vinashin — which almost collapsed in 2010 under billions of US dollars of debt — sparked investor fears of wider problems at state-owned firms, a key pillar of Vietnam’s economy.

Former Vinashin chairman Pham Thanh Binh was last month jailed for 20 years, while eight other former executives at the shipbuilder were handed sentences of between three and 19 years.

The executives were accused of losing more than US$43 million, mostly from the procurement of an Italian-made high-speed passenger boat as well as two electricity plants.

Some loss-making sea transport projects at Vinashin have been transferred to Vinalines.

State-owned groups, many of which are widely regarded as badly managed, control two-thirds of capital and assets in Vietnam and enjoy cosy relations with officials.

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