Vietnamese and Danish officials met at the Danish embassy in Hanoi on Wednesday, 6 June to discuss Denmark’s decision to suspend financial assistance to three climate research projects following suspicion of fraud.
The meeting came a week after Danish Development Minister, Christian Friis Bach, said aid would be ended for the projects after accounting firm Pricewaterhousecoopers had uncovered misuse of US$547,000.
Despite similar fears, a fourth project will, however, continue as scheduled since the amount involved is small.
News website VnExpress reported that the meeting was attended by representatives of the four projects, Pricewaterhousecoopers, Danish foreign aid agencies, and the Vietnamese Ministry of Science and Technology, and it would continue for another day if the issue is not sorted out.
The financial irregularities were concluded as the responsibility of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology and the Vietnam National University-Hanoi.
But the two agencies said that PwC might have used different accounting standards and did not quite understand the process of the projects or Vietnamese financial operations, adding they are willing to provide information to clarify the problem.
Denmark is Vietnam’s largest provider of official development assistance in Europe. Officials from the country and other donor nations attended a Consulting Group meeting earlier this week.
According to VnExpress, the Minister of Investment and Planning Bui Quang Vinh told reporters on the sidelines of the CG session on Tuesday, 5 June, that his government would fully cooperate with Denmark in the investigation and punish any kind of misuse to win back donors’ trust.
“It is regretful that this happened. The Vietnamese government will seriously look into this. Vietnam deeply appreciates every single dollar of aid from donors, especially in this difficult time,” he said.