Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security announced Wednesday it has arrested the fugitive former chairman of a debt-laden state shipping company who was wanted for economic crimes, state media said.
Duong Chi Dung, the former chairman of Vinalines, was nabbed by police in an unnamed Southeast Asian country on Tuesday before being sent back to Vietnam with the help of Interpol, the Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.
One state media report said he was detained in Cambodia, according to the Associated Press.
Dung, 55, fled a May 18 warrant for his arrest as authorities detained two other top officials at Vinalines, the country’s largest shipping company and port operator.
According to Vietnam News, he has been charged with "intentionally violating state regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences" during his time as board chair of company, formally known as Vietnam National Shipping Lines.
Dung, who is also head of the Ministry of Transport’s Maritime Administration, is the seventh Vinalines official held for allegedly deliberately mismanaging the company’s resources by spending U.S. $5 million on a floating dock and purchasing more than 70 dilapidated foreign ships.
In May, the government released a report saying Vinalines had defaulted on loans worth U.S. $1.1 billion.
The scandal marks a test of the government's pledges to fight graft and reform state-owned enterprises, which are responsible for some two-thirds of the country’s economic capital and assets.
In 2010, a similar scandal at state-owned shipbuilder Vinashin, which nearly collapsed under debt of about U.S. $4.5 billion, sparked investor concerns over the management of the country’s other government-run firms.
Vinalines took on many of Vinashin’s projects, but also mismanaged them.
Following public outcry over the shipbuilder, the government admitted Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung had played a role in allowing the mismanagement of state-owned firms including Vinashin, but said the "shortcomings and mistakes" were not serious enough to warrant disciplinary action.
In a well-publicized court case, nine Vinashin officials were given long-term prison sentences last year for knowingly violating state regulations.
Dung’s arrest for economic crimes comes weeks after a top tycoon was nabbed for economic crimes at one of the country’s biggest banks.
Nguyen Duc Kien, the multimillionaire cofounder of the Asian Commercial Bank, is being held for “illegal business activities” in connection with three private companies he chaired.
Reported by Rachel Vandenbrink.