The son of a Vietnamese top trade leader was arrested on September 30 in Hanoi for allegedly taking a bribe of US$30,000 to help a garment firm obtain export quotas to the US market, reported police. Mai Thanh Hai, 32, the eldest son of current deputy trade minister Mai Van Dau, is an official of the trade ministry’s import-export department in charge of allocating garment export quotas. [See Vietnam Media Watch September 21 2002]
Hai allegedly received a bribe of 500 million Vietnamese dong on June 11, 2003, from foreign-invested Qualitex Joint-venture Co in Hanoi via a go-between to help the company secure a quota of 70,000 dozen garments, according to police.
However, the trade ministry on June 20, 2003, allocated only 28,000 dozen to Qualitex. The firm’s executive board chairman then demanded the money back since Hai had failed to supply the quotas. Four days later on June 24, Hai returned only 154 million dong to the company via the intermediary.
The rest, Hai said, was the fee Qualitex had to pay for the quotas it had received.
Qualitex then filed a criminal complaint with the trade ministry against Hai. Two Qualitex employees also visited Hai’s home to get the money back. On August 30, 2003, Hai returned the remaining 365 million dong to Qualitex.
Qualitex then withdrew the complaint against Hai, but the father of one of the above two Qualitex personnel reported the case to the Hanoi Economic Police.
Initially, the police and the Hanoi People’s Procuracy decided to drop the case as Hai had repaid the bribe in total, but on September 14 of this year those executive agencies in a meeting determined that it was obviously a case of official corruption. The economic police division then transferred all related documents to the People’s Procuracy to re-examine and decide whether or not to indict Hai.
In early September Le Van Thang, deputy general director of the Import-Export Department, was arrested with other officials following allegations of embezzlement.
Thang and his accomplice were accused of allegedly setting up a ring to force garment and textile exporters to pay huge bribes to secure export quotas to the US market, according to police. Before Hai’s arrest, nine individuals implicated in the case had already been detained.
Realising that Hai was part of the graft ring, the economic police handed the case over to the Hanoi criminal investigation division for an official indictment.
Police on September 30 also searched Hai’s house and office and reportedly seized some documents and records related to the case.
Mai Thanh Hai, dubbed by domestic garment firms as “Hai Quota”, was born on September 2, 1972, in Central Vietnam’s Thanh Hoa Province. He started working as an official of the trade ministry’s import-export department in 2003.
Before his arrest Hai was living in a 200-square-metre villa owned by his father, deputy trade minister Dau, in the central part of Hanoi. The house is said to be worth nearly 3,000 taels of gold (a tael is 1.2oz).
Hai married Miss Vietnam 2000 Phan Thu Ngan in 2002. Hanoi residents said Hai lived in luxurious style and was something of a playboy.