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Men in charge say Danish fund cuts groundless
  • | Tuoi tre | June 04, 2012 08:10 PM
 >>  Denmark halts three ODA projects over fraud allegations

All responsible people of the three Denmark-funded projects, whose sponsorship has recently been suspended following several irregularities unearthed by audit reports, have insisted to Tuoi Tre that they have done nothing wrong.

 Vietnamese and Danish scientists attend a field trip in November 2009 during their project titled "Climate Change and Esturine Ecosystems in Vietnam"
Photo: http://www.climeeviet.coma
Earlier, an independent review by Price Waterhouse Coopers detected US$550,000 worth of misuse in three out of four climate change projects funded by the Danish government via the Danish International Development Assistance (DIDA).

“I am unhappy at the audit report, since it was done without any discussion or analysis. The auditors also failed to acknowledge the project procedures,” said Associate Professor Nguyen Ngoc Lam, the coordinator of the “Climate Change and Esturine Ecosystems in Vietnam,” one of the aforementioned projects.

The audit report has accused Lam of misusing VND845 million worth of funding to award a scholarship in Denmark to his daughter.

“This is not true,” Lam told Tuoi Tre. “My daughter met the English requirement of a Danish university, and submitted an application to them through her own initiative, rather than being recommended by the project.”

“After she was enrolled, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs directly transferred her tuition to the university, all of which was in accordance with Danish regulations,” he added.

For its part, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in its report that, though the project is under scrutiny, further clarification is still needed.

The audit also accused officials working for the project of receiving double salaries, which came from both the project fund and the Institute of Oceanography, where they work. This misuse was valued at VND270 million, under a “consulting contract signed with the project members,” auditors said.

Commenting on this, Lam said the contract was a “science – technology contract, which is totally different from the consultant one.”

“I myself also receive an institutional salary, and an aid worth $300 a month as approved by the Danish side, so it cannot be deemed we are receiving double payments,” he insisted.

Lam said he has made reports in both English and Vietnamese to submit to relevant agencies, and confirmed to Tuoi Tre that the project has not committed any frauds.

“The Dutch side also appreciates that the project has been carried out well, and the report for its first phase was also evaluated as good,” he said.

Allegation denied

Meanwhile, Associate Professor Doctor Pham Van Cu, director of the International Centre for Advanced Research on Global Change (ICARG), confirmed that the center has regularly submitted its annual financial report to the Danish government over the last few years.

In 2009, ICARG was granted funds to implement the project “Impacts of Climate Change on Land Use Change in the Red River Delta and its Community Livelihood Change,” which is now suspended for a misuse worth VND4.4 billion.

“We submitted the 2011 report in April and received no response, then suddenly the news came that we had committed fraud,” said Cu.

“I can confirm right now that no allegation from the audit is true.

“We have finalized our reports about the case, and if allowed, we wish to publicize it on our website,” he said firmly.

Cu said the project has covered two-thirds of its full progress, and is expected to be completed by May 2013.

“Now that funding has been cut off, we still set to continue our journey,” he shared. “We will seek funding from other projects, in order not to waste our efforts over the last two years.”

For his part, Nguyen Dinh Ky, head of the Institute of Geography, which manages the project “Assessing the Impact Trends of Climate Change on Physical and Environmental Conditions and Socio-Economic Development in Central Vietnam,” simply said the project has gained positive results.

“[The project] will conclude its first phase this month,” he talked of what auditors said had made a VND5.5 billion worth of misuse.

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