Project 112's ongoing trial has shed light on a corruption scandal that defendants may have used "tricks" to earn thousands of dollars fraudulently.
Defendants at the trial.
The trial on the corruption scandal of Project 112, a module of a master programme on computerising state administration, began on January 13 at the Hanoi People’s court and is expected to end on January 25.
Vu Dinh Thuan, former Vice Chairman of the Government Office cum former chief of Project 112, has been accused of approving over 100 contracts and seriously violating regulated tender rules that caused a loss of VND4.6 billion ($245,218).
Luong Cao Son, Secretary of Project 112 Management Board and Nguyen Cat Ho, Leader of the Training Unit of the Project 112 Management Board are being prosecuted for breaking the tender rules by dividing the project into small contracts.
Defendants Vu Dinh Thuan (L) and Luong Cao Son (R) at the trial. (Photo by P.Thao)
17 other defendants who were involved in exceeding contract values against its real values for their own benefit which resulted in the loss of VND4.1 billion ($218,564) could face up to ten years imprisonment.
Luong Cao Phi, who worked for Construction Publishing House and Luong Cao Phong, Director of the Valuation Centre of the Construction IT Company are accused of abusing power to make money. Phi and Phong fraudulently earned VND350 million ($18,657) and VND113 million ($6,023) respectively.
Phi confessed that he received VND35 million ($1,865) from the Study Promotion Printing Company but inspectors forced him to admit he received VND420 million ($22,389) in order to qualify for bail. He says he is not guilty.
Son denied that he asked for commission from Nguyen Thuy Ha, Director of the ISA IT Joint Stock Company so that her company could win the tender for the software supplying project, he also denied suggesting that the project be divided into smaller ones to avoid tender.
Regarding the amount of VND360 million ($19,191) received from Ha, Son explained that was the discount amount for the ISA Company but they refused to get it so he gave Thuan VND200 million ($10,661), keeping the rest for himself.
Luong Cao Son, Secretary of Project 112 Management Board
Son also denied that he “sold” 28 book-printing contracts to Nguyen Duc Giao, Director of the Justice Publishing House under the Ministry of Justice, even though Giao and Thuan confessed that they did. But after that he said the commission from the Justice Publishing House was given to Thuan, Hoang Dang Bao, an expert of the Administrative Reform Department, and himself.
Despite the evidence, Thuan kept repeating that he did not know, receive or direct to receive money.
Meanwhile Giao said, “We gave them cash instead of transferring money into their account in order to simplify complicated procedures.”
Nguyen Duc Giao, Director of the Justice Publishing House
Regarding the amount of VND667 million ($35,556) received from other publishing houses, his sub-contractors, Giao initially denied that he heard about that money but plead guilty after his three sub-contractors disclosed that they exceeded the contract values under his request.
Nguyen Thi Phuong Hoa, Manager of the Sales Department of the Vietnam Book Distribution Corporation affirmed that her deputy, Ngo Thi Nham, contacted the 112 project’s management board and requested a 30 percent commission of the contract value worth VND2.3 billion ($122,609).
Management board of the project 112 received a $38,915 commission
“I know it’s wrong to exceed the contract value against its real value but I had done it for common interests.” added Hoa.
Luu Y Nhi, the chief accountant and Nguyen Thi Minh Thieu, Vice Director of the company, also admitted that they knew it’s wrong to receive commission without any receipt, but they still did so because of greed for money.
Luong Cao Phong, Director of the Valuation Centre of the Construction IT Company, said he did not know anything about the informatics software project. Son offered him 3 contracts and asked him to write books and build projects.
Regarding training contracts, Phong said he got them through Nguyen Cat Ho, Leader of Training Session of Project 112 Management Board not Son.
"Toan Cau Informatics Company gave Son a Tet gift worth $19,191," said Chu Xuan Vinh
Chu Xuan Vinh from Toan Cau Informatics Company said that he is just an IT engineer; he only did what he was supposed to do in terms of software and open source code. He confessed giving Son VND360 million ($19,191) as a Tet gift, not a commission.
The 23 defendants were questioned. Court will continue questioning witnesses, other relevant individuals and People’s pro curacy and lawyers did their duties today.
The trial started on January 13 and is expected to end on January 25. DTiNews will continue updating on the trial.
Project 112 is the comprehensive administrative reform programme of the Vietnamese government launched in 2001, specifically in the e-government scheme, staff training and computerising the administrative systems. However, after five years of implementation, this project had failed since its goals were not fulfilled. In April 2007, the Prime Minister decided to stop implementing this project, saying that the project was not reaching the goals of computerising the state administrative management.