Vinalines ex-chairman Duong Chi Dung, who was sentenced to death last year for his offenses in a corruption case in 2008, pleaded not guilty to embezzlement and asked for a commutation for another charge at his appeal trial opened in Hanoi on Tuesday morning.
At his first instance trial on December 16, 2013, Dung, the former chairman of the Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines) was given the death penalty on charges of embezzlement and an 18-year imprisonment sentence for intentionally violating state regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences.
As a result, a combined sentence for Dung, 57, was the death penalty.
Also receiving the capital punishment for the same two charges as Dung was Mai Van Phuc, the ex-CEO of Vinalines.
Meanwhile, the other eight defendants received sentences from four to 22 years in jail.
Of the ten defendants, nine including Dung and Phuc appealed their verdicts after the first instance court.
At this morning’s appeal hearing, Dung denied the embezzlement charge, saying he did not receive VND10 billion (US$470,000), part of the $1.666 million kickback paid by a Singaporean broker, AP Company, to Vinalines officials after the firm bought an old floating dock at $9 million from a Russian company, as stated in the indictment.
Dung admitted he committed wrongdoing in deciding to buy the dock and said he “is very repentant” of that, but the man denied receiving the VND10 billion kickback from Tran Hai Son, former CEO of Vinalines Shipyard Co Ltd.
Son had told investigators that after the purchase of the dock, AP Company transferred $1.666 million as a ‘commission’ to the accused officials through the bank account of the Phu Ha Co Ltd, whose director is Tran Thi Hai Ha, Son’s younger sister.
Upon receiving the bank transfer, Son gave Dung and Phuc VND10 billion each.
Son took VND6 billion ($284,600) himself and gave Ha VND2 billion ($94,900), and Tran Huu Chieu, Vinalines former deputy CEO, VND340 million ($16,130).
When asked by the court this morning why Son divided the kickback into such portions, he said he did it under Dung’s instructions.
According to the jury, a loss of over VND366 billion ($17.4 million), including repair fees, storage expenses, transportation and other expenditures, was caused to the state budget as of May 2012 following the purchase of the old dock.
Dung told the court that his family has so far handed in VND4.7 billion ($223,000) to the court’s verdict execution department as an effort to mitigate the loss.
Therefore, he asked the court to give him a commutation for the charge of intentionally violating state regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences.
He also said he felt remorse for fleeing from Vietnam in May 2012 after being advised to do so by one of his acquaintances.
According to the indictment, Dung was hunted internationally and arrested in Cambodia on September 4, 2012 and was later extradited to Vietnam.
The appeal hearing is continued and expected to last for three days.
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