Three years in prison for fraud in Swedish-funded program

After five days of trial, the province People’s Court yesterday convicted 10 officials guilty of charges of embezzlement. They had forged documents to appropriate more than US$20,700 from a Swedish-funded program in 2007-2009.


Former director of the provincial Department of Natural Resource and Environment, Nguyen Kim Phuc, was sentenced to three years in prison. Phuc was tried in absentia since he fell sick during the trial, the court said.


Ha Thuong Truc, 53, former chief accountant of the department, and Nguyen Van Mau, 46, former chief of the department’s secretariat, were both sentenced to 2 years and a half.


The court ordered all the defendants to return the entire amount they had appropriated.

According to the local prosecutor’s office, the department implemented the SEMLA Phu Yen program, which is aimed at improving the province’s land and environmental management capability, from 2007 to 2009.


This program cost more than VND13.5 billion ($648,000), of which VND12.5 billion was the non-refundable aid from the Swedish Government.


During the implementation of the program, which included the building of an environmental observation system and carrying out two study projects of salt marsh areas, Phuc and his staffs faked documents to appropriate more than VND432 million ($20,700) from the program’s budget.


More than two months ago, Denmark decided to halt three ODA climate change study projects in Vietnam due to misappropriation of funds. In a press release on June 1, the Danish Embassy in Vietnam claimed that more than $550,000 of the total funding of $3.45 million for these projects had been misused.

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