Thu, May 11, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Dirty officials spent millions on homes

DPA , HANOI

Police in Vietnam have traced millions of dollars worth of luxury homes to transport ministry officials who have been accused of skimming funds from road building projects, a local newspaper reported on Tuesday.

According to Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper, investigators attempting to trace the missing money have discovered that Bui Tien Dung, the disgraced director of the transport ministry's Project Management Unit 18 owns two villas and an unfinished house in Hanoi.

Nguyen Viet Tien, first deputy transport minister, who was arrested in connection with the scandal, reportedly owns two plots of land and a villa in the most expensive districts in the capital. The newspaper also said Tien owns a 7.5 hectare farm in Hai Duong province.

It's estimated that the properties, which are located in prime real estate areas, are worth several million dollars. Investigators believe that the men, who remain in police custody, own additional houses but the properties have been difficult to trace because it is likely they are listed in the names of others.

Police would not confirm the newspaper's claims, stating that the investigation was still ongoing.

The transport corruption scandal has dominated headlines in Vietnam since January when police arrested several senior officials on gambling charges. Investigators say that Dung bet at least US$2.6 million on European football matches. They believe that at least US$7 million is missing.

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