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Dinh La Thang gets 10-year jail term in road toll collection case

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HCMC – The HCMC People’s Court on December 22 sentenced former Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang to 10 years behind bars for his violations in the HCMC-Trung Luong Expressway toll collection case that caused a loss of VND725 billion for the State.

He was found guilty of breaking regulations on the management and use of State-owned property, leading to losses and wastefulness, the local media reported.

Thang is serving his combined sentences of 30 years for irregularities in two other cases, with one at the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group and the other at the Ocean Commercial Bank. Therefore, his combined punishment is a jail term of 30 years.

The court also handed down a life imprisonment to Dinh Ngoc He, former chairman and general director of Thai Son Development and Investment JSC under the Ministry of National Defense, for swindling to appropriate assets, and a prison term of 13 years for abusing his power and position to make an impact on others to gain benefits, resulting in a combined punishment of life imprisonment.

He was also told to pay back VND725 billion to the State and VND3.4 billion from the purchase of a villa from Licogi 13 JSC.

The 12 other defendants, who were determined as He’s accomplices, received two years of probation or prison sentences of up to 10 years on the charge of swindling to appropriate assets.

Former Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Hong Truong was sentenced to 4.5 years in jail.

Duong Tuan Minh, former general director of Cuu Long for Investment Development and Project Management of Infrastructure, which managed the HCMC-Trung Luong Expressway, received a four-year prison term.

Four others, who were ex-officials of the Ministry of Transport and employees of Cuu Long Corporation, will stay behind bars for two to 3.5 years.

According to the court verdict, the HCMC-Trung Luong Expressway project is a State-invested project so money from selling the toll collection right belongs to the State. The then prime minister assigned the Ministry of Transport to monitor the bidding on the toll collection of the project.

In February 2012, Thang introduced He to Minh so that He’s Yen Khanh Company was facilitated to win the bidding for the expressway toll collection.

As Yen Khanh is a loss-making company, He asked his subordinates to falsify documents, which turned Yen Khanh into a profit-making company.

At a project to build Viet Tri bridge in Phu Tho Province, He abused his position and power to ensure that the Thai Son and Yen Khanh companies held 40% each at the Viet Tri Bridge BOT Joint Stock Company to make an impact on shareholders of the company so that Licogi 13 JSC was allowed to execute two items of the project. In exchange, Licogi 13 would sell the BT01 villa to He at a low price; He thus earned VND3.4 billion.

According to the court, the defendants at the Ministry of Transport and Cuu Long Corporation did not check the capacity of Yen Khanh Company and allowed it to win the bidding. During the toll collection, He and his accomplices also illegally interfered with the Transport Ministry’s management software to artificially lower toll revenues.

Thang knew regulations but facilitated He’s company to win the bidding. When he knew that Yen Khanh Company made late payments to the State, he did not direct the company to suspend the toll collection.

The violations of Thang and his accomplices created conditions for He to appropriate VND725 billion of the State, so Thang must bear the main responsibility in the case.

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