Opinion
Authorities fail to recover stolen state assets
  • By Bui Hoang Tam | dtinews.vn | June 18, 2016 09:59 PM
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If corruption is one of the top concerns in Vietnam, then recovering lost money is now the top concern in that fight.

Several solutions have been implemented to recover as much stolen money as possible from corruption cases including amending compensation regulations and publicising the assets of state officials. But the results have been disappointing.

Deputy Minister of Justice Tran Tien Dung said, "Aside from the assets that are seized during the prosecution, the offenders rarely have anything else. The amount of lost money is huge but the value of the recovered assets is small."

Everyone knows that corruption results in losses of hundreds of billions or trillions of VND but the recovered money often only amounts to a few billions.

For example, former Vinashin executives was blamed for losses of more than USD43 million in 2012, most of which came from the illegal procurement of an Italian-made high-speed passenger vessel and two electric generators. Former chairman Pham Thanh Binh was asked to repay VND500bn (USD23.8m) and pay VND650m (USD31,000) in court costs but he said flat out that he did not have the money.

"The court asks me to pay over VND650m but my parents are public servants like I am (public servants' wages are generally low) so my family is unable to pay the fees," he said.

 

Pham Thanh Binh (middle)

Another case involved banking employee Huynh Thi Huyen Nhu. Four of the officials at ACB Bank directed their staff to illegally deposit the bank’s money in 29 other banks to enjoy higher interest rates involving tycoon Nguyen Duc Kien. However, VND719bn of the deposits at VietinBank had been stolen by Huynh Thi Huyen Nhu. Nhu was ordered by the court to pay nearly VND14trn but just VND500bn was recovered.

So where did all the embezzled money go? It can't just disappear but has been kept at some secret places or the offenders can give it to their relatives. It's not like the case can't be investigated so the question is whether the authorities really want to recover the money.

Moreover, one of the reasons the offenders want to protect those money instead of returning it for lighter punishments is because the current punishments are not strict enough. Many people think that the offenders are willing to go to jail so their children can have the money.

In Pham Thanh Binh case, he was sentenced for 20 years and asked to compensate VND500bn. If the money is divided equally then for each year he is willing to stay in jail, his family can have VND25bn. Who wants to return such huge money, Binh probably wants to stay in jail for even longer on that basis.

As of this June, Binh has served six years of his sentence and his sentence could be reduced for good behaviour. When he is released, will the money be forgotten?

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