Monday, January 23, 2006

Senior official arrested for gambling in Vietnam

Bui Tien Dung, Vietnam's general director of the Ministry of Transport’s Project Management Unit 18 (PMU18), was arrested on 20 January for involvement in a gambling scandal.

On the morning of January 20, Dung and Nguyen Viet Bac, deputy general director of the Ministry of Transport’s Highway Development Company, were questioned by police. After several hours, Dung was escorted to his house on Truong Chinh Street, Hanoi, which police searched for two hours. Dung was then arrested. Investigators have requested the People’s Procuracy prosecute Dung for gambling. The Ministry of Transport has also temporary suspended him from the General Directorship of PMU18.

According to VietNamNet, documents found on Bui Quang Hung’s computer, Dung spent nearly $2.4 million in around two months betting on football. Dung, 47, has held the post of PMU18 general director since 1998. The unit is currently managing several large transport projects, such as Bai Chay Bridge, National Highways 18, 10, 2, 3 and others.

Transport Minister Dao Dinh Binh called for efforts to fight corruption and losses in the transport sector at a meeting in Hanoi. Though the management skills of many transport officials are considered poor by international standards, the transport ministry is assigned to manage a large volume of capital. This year, the ministry has been allocated $1.5 billion to improve transport infrastructure nationwide. “We are facing a great threat from corruption and losses,” Mr Binh said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Pham Van Khai has requested Transport Minister Binh report on the gambling scandal before 25 January.

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