The Ministry of Public Security has issued an arrest warrant for scandal-hit Vinalines’ former chair Duong Chi Dung, who is still at large.
Two weeks ago the ministry (MoPS) ordered police take Dung and two of his longtime colleagues into detention. The two others have been identified as Mai Van Phuc, a former general director of Vinalines and current deputy director of the Ministry of Transport’s Transportation Department, and Tran Huu Chieu, the current deputy general director of Vinalines.
While Phuc and Chieu are in detention, Dung appears to have been tipped off because he absconded before police could put him under temporary detention.
Colonel Tran Duy Thanh, the head of the police agency in charge of the criminal investigation, said Dung’s decampment would make the investigation more difficult but he insisted that it would not affect the investigation’s result.
Thanh said Dung and his colleagues at Vinalines bought a 42-year-old floating dock No.83M from Japan at a cost of over $14 million, which became part of a ship-repair factory that Vinalines built in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province at a cost of VND6.5 trillion ($288 million). The purchase of the dock was done without getting Ministry of Transport’s and government’s approval.
The amount spent to buy, transport and repair the floating dock, plus bank loan interest, came to an eye-watering $24.3 million. The dock is now sitting unused in Ba Ria-Vung Tau. The MoPS said the purchase caused Vinalines to lose VND100 billion ($4.8 million) as of April 2012. Most of this money was used to repair the dock, keep it at a location, and pay the loan interest.
With regards to the repair work, Thanh said that fake contracts had been signed and Vinalines’ accounting books were altered so that the miscreants were able to appropriate VND2.9 billion ($139,000) from Vinalines. Four other individuals, Tran Hai Son, director general of Vinalines Ship-Repairing Company, Tran Van Quang, head of Vinalines Ship-Repairing Company’s planning department, Tran Ba Hung, an officer at Hyundai Vinashin Shipyard, and Pham Ba Giap, director of the Nguyen An Company, have been picked up and are being held for their involvement in this misdeed.
Vinalines is the largest shipping line and the largest port operator in Vietnam. From 2006 to 2010, Vinalines spent VND20 trillion ($961 million) to expand its fleet by nearly one million deadweight tonnes, increasing its total transportation capacity to about 2.9 million deadweight tonnes. This was 300,000dwt more than in the plan approved by the government during 2006-2010.
According to the government Inspectorate, Vinalines lost VND1.685 trillion ($81 million) during 2009 and 2010.