Former Vietnamese Coast Guard commander convicted of embezzlment

Nguyen Van Son is accused of stealing more than US$2 million
By RFA Vietnamese
2023.02.02
Former Vietnamese Coast Guard commander convicted of embezzlment Nguyen Van Son, former commander of the Vietnam Coast Guard.
Reuters: File photo

Vietnamese authorities convicted the former commander of Vietnam’s Coast Guard, Nguyen Van Son, of embezzling more than U.S.$2 million from the Defense Ministry, state media announced on Thursday.

The commander, alongside several others in the Coast Guard, were accused of taking  money allocated to the Ministry’s technology procurement department. In Vietnam, the highest punishment for “state-asset embezzlement” can be the death penalty. 

Six others alongside the commander were convicted of the corruption charge, including Gen. Hoang Van Dong, Major Gen. Doan Bao Quyet, Major Gen. Phan Kim Hau, Major Gen. Bui Trung Dung, Colonel Nguyen Van Hung, and Senior Lieutenant Colonel Bui Van Hoe.

According to the indictment, the Ministry of National Defense allocated 450 billion Vietnamese dong (US$19.15 million) to the Coast Guard in February 2019  as its estimated administrative budget for the year. 

Some 150 billion dong (US$6.38 million) out of this budget was provided to the Department of Technology to purchase equipment and materials for related agencies. 

But then, Commander Nguyen Van Son allegedly directed the Department of Technology’s Director General Nguyen Van Hung that “when purchasing supplies and materials, 50 billion Vietnamese dong must be withdrawn for VCG’s use [public welfare].”

Effectively, the commander is accused of siphoning funds as part of every expenditure made in the technology procurement department. 

The indictment adds that under Commander Nguyen Van Hung’s direction, the Department of Technology divided its total allocated budget into 29 bidding packages, of which nine small packages were intentionally valued at less than 10 billion Vietnamese dong each to avoid the Ministry of National Defense’s scrutiny, assessment, and approval.

“To be able to take part in and win the biddings, participating businesses had to agree to the Coast Guard’s suggestions and work with the head of divisions to increase the prices of materials and equipment or give kick-backs,” the indictment said. 

Vietnamese authorities have been targeting several mid- and high-ranking officials in a wide-ranging corruption crackdown, with several scandals rocking the government during the COVID-19 pandemic response.  

Translated by Anna Vu. Edited by Nawar Nemeh and Malcolm Foster.

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