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Victory Statue corruption case postponed
  • | | March 31, 2010 05:11 PM

The trial involving the construction of Dien Bien Phu Victory Statue in Dien Bien Province has been postponed due to many ambiguous details.

Defendants at the court

After a round of interrogation, the court came to a conclusion that there is not enough evidence for the accusation that Luong Phuong Cac, Head of the project management board received bribes worth VND500 million ($26,000) from Vo Thi Hong, Manager of Central Fine Arts Company. The court requested the police to further investigate the motivation and purpose of giving that money.

Investigation results revealed that Hong spent her own money to give the management board with an aim of thanking leaders from provincial departments. However, defendants confirmed that they received only several dozens of millions of dong to give people working directly at the site.

The court also believed that there was no proof showing that Hong’s company “bought” the contract. They won the tender because they were appointed by the statue creator.

In addition, the court could not find enough clues to prove that Vo Thi Hong and Nguyen Trong Hanh abused their positions for purposes of corruption or that Luong Phuong Cac, Tran Quoc Hung, Nguyen Van Chinh had violated the regulations intentionally.

The former Principal of Industrial Fine Arts University and Manager of Shaping Faculty denied that they received money to sign the forging documents.

Regarding the quality of construction materials, there are two conclustions made by the Criminal Science Institute under the Ministry of Police that confused the court.

The trial was forced to be postponed on its 3rd day. This is not the first time that the case has required further investigation.

During the trial, defendant Vo Thi Hong, Manager of the Central Fine Arts Company confessed that her company hired Doan Ket Ltd. Company in March 2003 to cast the statue because they didn’t have a casting factory. However, in June 2003, Hong’s company was assigned by the People’s Committee of Lai Chau Province to conduct the casting and constructing of the rite yard.

Hong explained that her actions were because the People’s Committee of Lai Chau Province asked her company to survey the site and set an estimated budget for statue construction in late 2002. However, it was wrong to select a sub-contractor before receiving an official agreement from the committee.

Hong's company claimed that they had used 218.7 tonnes of pure bronze when in fact the actual amount was only 120.94 tonnes. Hong said that Nguyen Trong Hanh, Vice Manager of the Doan Ket Ltd. Company at Y Yen, Nam Dinh used mixed bronze to cast the statue. In fact, an assessor confirmed at the court that the current quality of the construction was guaranteed.

Nguyen Trong Hanh said that an assessor didn’t account for bronze which was diminished during the casting. He did not cast the statue according to the design and estimated budget because it wasn't feasible. Hanh did it his own way.

Hanh said, “The construction has not been checked and taken over so it’s still under our management. We can cast again if it’s needed.”

Hanh admitted that he offered the price of VND20 billion ($1 million) after looking at requirements from Hong, however, Hong agreed with the price of VND18.5 billion ($960,000).

Regarding the interrogation with project management, Luong Phuong Cac, who was Vice Manager of Dien Bien  Province's Department of Culture & Information cum Head of the project management board, was accused of bribery, corruption and intentionally breaking the law.

Cac assigned the Central Fine Arts Company owned by Vo Thi Hong as a contractor when the company didn’t submit technical designs, estimated expenditures and hadn’t yet made a contract with the management board as well as not having a casting factory.

Cac justified choosing Hong’s company because the Ministry of Culture and Information had introduced and confirmed that it was the only qualified company who was able to cast a huge statue. However, Hong’s company did not have any casting factory and had never cast such a big statue.

Le Van Vien, Vice Manager of the project management board confessed that it went against the Decree 52/1999 by the State Government to choose a contractor but it was in line with regulations of the Ministry of Culture and Information as well as guidelines of the Lai Chau People’s Committee at the time.

Cac plead guilty in regards to his management board not properly supervising the construction quality and process.

Cac and Vien did not confess that they had instructed forging documents to pay Hong’s company VND25 billion ($1.3 million). Vien denounced Tran Quoc Hung, the project expert who made it, however, Hung insisted that Cac and Vien requested him to do so.

The Ministry of Police had finished investigating the case on October 13, 2008 and suggested prosecuting 10 defendants.

They are involved in breaking laws intentionally causing a loss of nearly VND 11 billion ($570,000) from the State budget, bribery of VND500 million ($26,000), corruption amounting to VND242 million ($12,500) and abusing their position causing a loss of VND9.1 billion ($472,000) from state budget.

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