Cablegate: Trial of Amerasian Fraud Ring in Ho Chi Minh City

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: 02 Ho Chi Minh City 0281

1. On June 8, a court in Ho Chi Minh City handed down
sentences to defendants in a case involving an Amerasian
fraud ring. Consulate General officers had developed some
of the initial evidence in this case over two years ago and
then passed it on to local authorities, as reported reftel.
The defendants were Vietnamese nationals who organized and
participated in the fraud ring. In addition, there were
several provincial and district-level police officials who
assisted them.

2. The principal defendant in the case, Ms. Nguyen Thi
Thanh Phuong, was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment for
bribery, document fraud and "helping others to escape the
country illegally." Ms. Phuong was identified as the head
of a network which helped purported Amerasians obtain
fraudulent immigration documents. Mr. Vo Tan Bien, a former
captain of Nui Thanh District public security in Quang Nam
province (central coast of Vietnam) was sentenced to 18
years for taking bribes and falsifying documents. Ms.
Nguyen Thi Thuy Hong, the younger sister of Ms. Phuong, was
sentenced to seven years for facilitating bribery. Five
defendants who were former public security officers were
given three-year suspended sentences for falsifying
documents. Three other defendants also received suspended

3. There were 12 other police and local government
officials involved in the case. While the court said they
had committed wrongdoing in verifying and certifying
fraudulent documents, their files were returned to
prosecutors for further investigation. The court did not
agree with the light administrative sanctions these
defendants had received, so it asked the Ministry of Public
Security (MPS) to continue its investigations.

4. Comment: It is a welcome development to see a
Vietnamese court give lengthy sentences to a notorious
Amerasian visa fixer and her collaborators, though it
remains to be seen whether they appeal their cases. The
fact that other defendants -- mostly former MPS officers --
got off with only suspended sentences was disappointing, as
it appears that these individuals are still on the job and
on the take. The publicity attached to this trial and
verdict has prompted renewed questions about the status of
the Amerasian program. High levels of fraud, bribery, and
manipulation were exactly what prompted the Mission to seek
expanded adjudication guidance from the Department in March
2002, and subsequently suspend adjudication of new Amerasian
cases in January 2003, pending a response from the


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