Cablegate: Another Corruption Case Hits Some Hi-Fliers

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. HCMC 499 B. HCMC 496 C. HANOI 2175

1. (U) Vietnamese media reported on December 3 the
convictions of a former director of a real estate and
marketing subsidiary of the Ministry of Agriculture and
Rural Development (MARD) -- La Thi Kim Oanh, who received a
death sentence -- and two former MARD vice ministers --
Nguyen Thien Luan and Nguyen Quang Ha, who each received
three year sentences. Two former MARD department directors
(assistant-secretary equivalent) -- Huynh Xuan Hoang and
Phan Van Quan -- were given four year prison terms, while
three of the subsidiary's executives -- Do Duc Thuan, Pham
Tien Binh, and Pham Chinh Nghia -- received 15, 14, and 10
year sentences, respectively. Based in part on letters of
support from the MARD vice ministers, Oanh's company was
able to borrow over USD4.5 million from various Vietnamese
banks, but most of the monies were never used for their
intended purposes and at least some was diverted for
overseas trips, gifts to officials, and other personal uses.
Oanh reportedly denied the specific charges of embezzlement
but admitted she had used the money "irresponsibly." All
defendants now have the right to appeal.

2. (U) When asked about the case in a recent interview
with Ho Chi Minh's "Tuoi Tre" (Youth) newspaper, Minister of
Public Security Le Hong Anh claimed that authorities had
been unable to track down to which GVN officials Oanh and
her company had given money or gifts, and therefore that
none would be charged with corruption, although he added
that the CPV's Control Department was still "providing
guidance" to investigators who continued to work within
MARD. He admitted that "hundreds of billion dong" in this
case remained "unaccounted for" and that "a hidden
influence" and "underground network" continued to have a
negative impact "within the state apparatus" on job
distribution, fund allocation for projects, and
"interference in the legal system."

3. (U) Comment: Like the even more high profile and
dramatic Nam Cam case (refs a and b), the MARD case
unusually toppled some relative hi-fliers, but likely failed
to satisfy public perceptions that others at even more
senior ranks remained untouched. As noted in ref c, the CPV
and GVN view the problem of corruption seriously and are
taking some welcome steps to move against corrupt officials.
However, the closed nature of this system and the self-
regulatory nature of anti-corruption campaign limit

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