The Vietnamese government sent a clear message today that it is serious about stopping corporate crime in the Communist country. Dead serious.
Two former execs of state-owned shipping were found guilty in Hanoi People’ s Court of taking about a million dollars in kickbacks — and sentenced to die.
Eight other executives were also convicted in the corruption scandal at the government-run firm, Vinalines. They were slammed with sentences from a low of four years to a max of 22.
The company’s former chairman, Duong Chi Dung (pictured) and its onetime general director Mai Van Phuc each took about $476,000 in payoffs, that they disguised through a complex money-laundering scheme, for arranging to buy an obsolete, unworkable floating dock from a Russian company.
Dung and Phuc are the third and fourth corporate executives to get the death penalty for corruption in the southeast Asian country in just the past month.
Nonetheless, critics inside Vietnam say that corruption is so ingrained in the country’s system, especially with the Vietnamese economy sputtering, that even death sentences don’t the trick when it comes to curtailing corporate graft.
The deal that will apparently cost Dung and Phuc their lives took place in 2008 and involved the purchase of a decrepit, obsolete floating dock constructed in Japan 43 years earlier. Making the deal even worse, Vinalines had no use for the dock even if it was functional.
The shipping plant where it was supposedly intended to go had not been built when the company bought the dock for $9 million — $4 million more than it Russian owners were asking — causing Vinalines to incur large storage costs while the dock waited to be installed .
Of the $9 million price tag, only $2.3 went to the Russian company, Nadhodka. A broker collected a fee of almost $4.5 million and $1.7 million kicked back to the Vinalines executives to be split among their group.
Vinalines is currently about $3 billion in debt.
Dung and Phac have two weeks to appeal their sentences. If they do not, they will be executed by lethal injection.
SOURCES: Associated Press, Vietnam.net, TuoitreNews