Cablegate: Vietnam: Textile Quota Bribe Scandal - Part Two
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS HANOI 002752
STATE PASS USTR FOR DSPOONER/CMILLER/EBRYAN
STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV AND EB/TPP/ABT/BTT
USDOC FOR OTEXA
BANGKOK FOR CUSTOMS ATTACHE
USDOC ALSO FOR 4431/MAC/AP/OPB/VLC/HPPHO
TREASURY FOR OASIA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KTEX ECON VM
SUBJECT: Vietnam: Textile Quota Bribe Scandal - Part Two
REF: Hanoi 2620
1. Summary: The arrest of the son of a Vice Minister of
Trade (who bears overall responsibility for textile quota
allocation) added a new twist to the GVN's ongoing
investigation into schemes by Ministry of Trade (MOT)
officials to extract bribes in exchange for U.S. textile
quota. Both English and Vietnamese language media are
reporting extensively on the case. U.S. textile/garment
buyers are concerned they the arrest of key officials could
affect allocation of 2005 quota. End Summary.
2. On September 30, the Economic Police (part of the
Ministry of Public Security) arrested two more MOT officials
and an "intermediary" for alleged involvement in a textile
bribery scandal. News reports did not directly link these
arrests to the earlier arrests of other MOT officials
reported reftel. One of the MOT officials arrested on
September 30 is Mr. Mai Thanh Hai, the son the Vice Minister
of Trade Mai Van Dau. According to press reports, Hai (who
worked in the Export-Import Office of MOT) allegedly
received 510 million Vietnamese Dong (approximately USD
32,000) in mid-2003 as part of a 1.5 billion VND bribe
(approximately USD 94,000) paid by a textile company in
return for textile quota. When the company only received
half the quota it expected, it demanded its money back.
Articles in the Vietnamese language press have also pointed
out that Hai is well known for his lavish spending habits,
for frequenting local nightclubs and for his marriage to a
former Miss Vietnam.
3. Hai's father, Mai Van Dau, has been Vice Minister of
Trade since 1992. His portfolio at MOT includes primary
responsibility for making export and import policies and
allocating import and export quotas, including for Vietnam's
textile and garment exports. According to press reports,
since his son's arrest, VM Dau has not returned to work at
MOT, although he has not officially resigned from his
position. (Note: VM Dau will be of retirement age at the
end of this year. End Note.) In discussions with the
press, the VM denied any knowledge of his son's "business"
activities. MOT has not named anyone to replace VM Dau and
Minister of Trade Truong Dinh Tuyen will reportedly oversee
the textile quota allocation process for the moment.
4. Representatives of textile companies in Ho Chi Minh City
report they believe the arrests will not affect quota that
has already been allocated, but there is concern the scandal
could affect allocation of 2005 quota. The head of a U.S.
textile company told HCMC Econoff that there are reports
that the GVN team responsible for allocating quota for the
EU market would be tasked to allocate 2005 U.S. quota. This
concerns textile reps because there is widespread belief
that the EU quota allocation has not been handled
transparently. The U.S. textile rep said the now-disgraced
MOT quota allocation team was open to input from the
industry. Even when the team's decisions were not popular,
the industry at least felt their interests had been heard.
The industry now worries they will lose their line of
communication with the MOT.