Headmaster gets nine years in jail for underage sex with students 

(L, R) Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuy, Nguyen Thuy Hang and Sam Duc Xuong in the dock Thursday at a trial involving statutory rape in the northern province of Ha Giang

A closed court in the northern province of Ha Giang Thursday handed a nine-year sentence to the former principal of a high school for statutory rape in a high profile sex scandal.


Sam Duc Xuong. 54, had sex with students, six of them underaged, between July 2008 and August 2009, the court was told in a hearing which took place under tight security provided by around 50 officers and police dogs.


The ex-principal of the Viet Lam High School was accused of forcing the students into prostitution using his money and authority.


The Ha Giang People’s Court also handed down suspended sentences of 36 months and 30 months respectively to two of Xuong’s students, Nguyen Thuy Hang and Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuy.


The girls, both 20, pleaded guilty to procuring schoolgirls for Xuong. They also had sex with Xuong.


Another four people were also charged with procuring, but not criminally indicted because they were underage, the court said.


The provincial police launched an investigation into the case after some parents reported that Xuong had forced their daughters to have sex with him in September, 2009


A trial that opened two months later sentenced Xuong to ten and half years in prison. Hang and Thuy received jail terms of six and five years respectively.


As the three defendants pleaded not guilty, an appeals court was convened in February last year when the two girls presented a list of 16 government officials that they had sex with.


This prompted the court to order a fresh investigation.


After studying the results of the new investigation, Ha Giang’s prosecutors decided not to charge any of the officials listed by the schoolgirls, including Nguyen Truong To, former chairman of the provincial People’s Committee.


However, To was dismissed and expelled from the Party in July last year after police discovered his nude photos saved in the phone of a sex worker in 2005.

To catch a killer 


After a month of innuendo, Long An locals express doubts that an aggressive local reporter died at the hands of his wife

The charred bed of reporter Le Hoang Hung of Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer) newspaper. He died of his wounds on January 29 after being set on fire ten days earlier.

On January 19, someone set fire to Le Hoang Hung, 51, while he was asleep in his bed.

His wife, 40-year-old Tran Thuy Lieu, told police that Hung burst into the room she and their two daughters were sleeping in, covered in flames.

Her neighbor and brother allegedly climbed into the locked home from an adjoining balcony and put out the inferno on Hung’s bed with a blanket.

Lieu claimed she extinguished the fire covering her husband using a showerhead.

At around 1 a.m., the family called a taxi to their four-story house in a sparsely-populated development in Tan An Town, the capital city of Long An Province, 50 kilometers to the southwest of Ho Chi Minh City.

Hung was rushed to the Long An General Hospital. Two hours later, he was transferred to Cho Ray Hospital in HCMC.

Doctors spent 10 days treating Hung, who had sustained severe burns on 60 percent of his body – to no avail.

Hung died covered head to toe in bandages.

Hung was a father, a Communist Party member, a former soldier in the Vietnamese army and the son of a war martyr. He had also spent the last 32 years of his life as a dogged reporter.

Friends say that more than 400 people attended his funeral.

Trial by newspaper

Almost immediately after Hung’s death, papers all over Vietnam focused suspicion on his wife, Lieu.

Reporter Le Hoang Hung of Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer) newspaper

Citing anonymous sources and police reports, these stories chalked the crime up to a bitter domestic dispute about household finances.

Absent from much of this reporting was a picture of Hung as a bold reporter who took risks in his work and challenged authority.

On February 8, the Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer) newspaper reported that Lieu had implored her husband to sell their house to repay her gambling debts, but he refused. Her total debt was said to be up to VND1.5 billion ($75,000), the paper said.

The following day, several newspapers reported that police had identified the prime suspect in the case.

In a February 11 interview, Lieu admitted to gambling at casinos in Cambodia in over twenty trips across the border.

“After building our house, we had to pay off our debts,” she told the Nong Thon Ngay Nay newspaper. “I thought it would be easy to make that money, gambling, if we did our research. But I lost more than I won. I only traveled to casinos in the day when he was not at home. Now that he’s dead I feel guilty and ashamed [that I tried to hide it from him].”

Following the interview, nearly every major paper reported that police had interrogated Lieu every day, for 12 hours a day, in the week following the funeral. Police later dismissed the claim and told reporters that they had questioned 20 other suspects in the case.

On Tuesday (February 15), the Ministry of Public Security dispatched a team to work with investigators in Long An and help facilitate an investigation.

As of press time, no arrests have been made in relation to Hung’s murder.

‘A good man with many enemies’

On the final evening of Hung’s two-day funeral, a tent lined with wreaths stood outside the open foray of his home.

Tran Thuy Lieu, the wife of reporter Le Hoang Hung, stands next to an alter smoldering with incense sticks at his funeral

As the sky turned an eerie purple, family and friends shuffled in and out of the house as a band played Buddhist dirges to help guide Hung’s soul into the afterlife.

In keeping with tradition, everyone paid respect to Lieu, who stood red-eyed and worn next to an alter smoldering with incense sticks.

Outside, family and friends sat at a dozen round tables, sipping tea and eating.

Nguyen Phan Dau, a correspondent of the Hanoi-based Lao Dong (Labor) newspaper in Long An Province took a break from photographing well-wishers to sit down for a cigarette.

Dau and Hung had worked together closely on special projects and investigations.

“I can tell you his family was an unhappy one but not to that level,” he said. “I think that someone who suffered from his reporting has taken revenge.”

Dau describes Hung as a diligent and professional reporter who was not afraid of danger.

For the past nine years, Hung had worked at the Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer) newspaper and covered news in Long An, Tien Giang and Ben Tre provinces in the Mekong Delta under the pen name Tran Hai Nguyen.

“Hung and I exposed rampant smuggling near Long An’s border with Cambodia and he was given an anonymous deaths threat,” he said. “It’s really dangerous being a reporter here.”

The morning before his attack, Hung confronted a local court judge whom sources had accused of accepting bribes.

Dau said that Hung had received claims that the judge had received exorbitant bribes from a rich man in Long An’s Ben Luc District in exchange for a favorable ruling in his pending divorce.

Hung and the judge quarreled before he left the office, Dau says.

Stepping on toes

Hung was no stranger to conflict. Western media sources have sometimes painted Hung as a rogue journalist.


Journalist set on fire while asleep at home

Important clues found in journalist’s murder: police

He did, indeed, enterprise his own local stories and managed to step on a few toes.

In some cases, however, Hung re-reported the findings of official sources.

In 2009, he reported that hundreds of farmers had filled out petitions accusing Tan Tru District authorities of offering meager compensation for land that they would appropriate for an industrial park.

Soon afterward, Hung wrote about the Thu Thua District’s plan to build a cemetery on the province’s most fertile rice paddies.

The provincial administration eventually rejected the district proposal.

In August 2010, Hung reported findings that 111 officials in Long An Province had used forged high school diplomas to win promotions.

On the day he died, Nguoi Lao Dong published Hung’s last story which detailed an unresolved murder that had taken place in Duc Hoa District, last September. Hung named two men as having murdered a man who had been asked to resolve a family argument. Hung wondered, in his story, why the two suspects had not been placed in police custody during the course of the police investigation – as is customary in Vietnam.

‘Protector of the wronged’

“Hung has always been a good journalist,” said Truong Van Tem, 49, a member of the Long An People’s Council, the local legislature. “He has worked to protect the rights of residents who had suffered from wrongs at the hands of government officials.”

Tem once enjoyed a prominent position as chairman of the Vam Co Waterway Transport Cooperative.

In 1995, he was arrested and charged with official corruption. After just one month in police custody, Tem was released, but the charges stuck.

Two years later, Hung found Tem living in a palm and bamboo hut near a river. He helped champion the man’s innocence.

In the coming years, papers all over the region picked up Tem’s story.

In 2007, provincial prosecutors officially exonerated Tem of wrongdoing and extended him an official apology and financial compensation for his ordeal.

“His career has hurt many [powerful people],” Tem said. “It’s no surprise that someone would want to take a revenge on him.”

Chau Van Cap, a retired police chief in the nearby town of Tam Vu, didn’t think much of Hung’s reporting.

“I know him well. He wrote a number of stories in my town several years ago,” said Cap, who now serves as a judicial official at the town people’s committee. “In one story, he championed the rights of small traders at Tam Vu Market who felt they were entitled to use some stalls. It was an unfair report. The traders he fought for actually had no rights over the stalls.”

Cap said he didn’t think that Lieu was guilty.

“Speaking as a policeman, I don’t think that the wife is the culprit,” he told Thanh Nien Weekly. “But I am sure that the police’s professional investigation methods will identify the assailant, soon.”

Others feared that the prolonged focus on Lieu may have allowed the killer[s] to slip away.

Woman admits killing husband in high-profile murder 

Tran Thuy Lieu, the wife of reporter Le Hoang Hung, at his funeral.

The wife of a murdered reporter turned herself in to Long An police Sunday, after suspicion had centered around her for nearly a month.


Police say that Tran Thuy Lieu, 40, has yet to tell police why and how she killed her husband, 50-year-old Le Hoang Hung, on January 19.


Hung, who worked as a reporter for Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer), was set on fire while he was asleep in his bed. He was rushed to a local hospital by his family, but died ten days later.



To catch a killer

Police previously identified Lieu as one of 20 suspects in the case. During the same period, local papers reported on a domestic dispute between the couple regarding household finances.


She was also reported to have racked up gambling debts totaling up to VND1.5 billion (US$75,000).


During the past month, she has repeatedly denied all accusations.


The Investigation remains underway.

Underworld goes underground 


Interpol red alert subject found safe haven in Vietnam for five years

Bunty Pandey (right) was arrested in Vietnam last October. Police said Pandey had been living in Vietnam under a false identity — Vijay Subhash Sharma, 40, labor contractor—- while running his operations in India

Smuggling, kidnapping, extortion and murders galore – Indian gangster Bunty Pandey had plenty of such crimes to his credit, and was wanted by the Indian police for at least 38 cases – and counting.

Despite an Interpol red corner notice issued for Pandey in 2002, he was nowhere to be found. Since 2002, Pandey had traveled to Nepal, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

The mystery was solved a few months ago.

He had been living in Ho Chi Minh City for five years with his family and children as a labor contractor and consultant, it was revealed last week during a review meeting held by the southern office of the Ministry of Public Security.

Among the 89 criminals nabbed in the southern region in 2010, the prize catch was 40-yearold Prakash Pandey aka Bunty Pandey. He stayed in Vietnam as Vijay Subash Sharma.

He had obtained an Indian passport from Mumbai in 1999 impersonating as Vijay Subhash Sharma. All his subsequent passports were also in this name making it difficult for Interpol and the Indian police to track him.

The gangster was arrested at a 20th floor condominium of Nhieu Loc Apartment in Ho HCMC’s District 3, where he was living with his wife and two children, police said.

The arrest was conducted on October 22 by a joint force of Interpol Vietnam and Agency No.1 that is in charge of handling foreign-related cases, following intimation from Interpol India saying that Pandey may be in Vietnam.

Thanh Nien Weekly learned that Pandey had not stopped dabbling in crime during his stay in Vietnam, although such activities appear to have been confined to India. He was involved in extortion and blackmailing even when he was here, and the police in India’s Mumbai City had cases on him as recently as in 2009.

In fact, his involvement in what looks like human trafficking came to light the day he was deported to India. A group of 16 Indian nationals were found by local police stranded in a public park in HCMC on November 4, all but one of them without passports or other valid travel document.

They said Pandey had brought them into the country in October 2010, some days before his arrest, and taken their passports and money, promising jobs and work permits in Vietnam. Since their documents could not be found and Pandey had been deported, the workers were also repatriated. Some of the passports may have been submitted for obtaining work permits to authorities in HCMC and may still be with them, Indian embassy officials told Thanh Nien Weekly.

Vietnamese police only said they found the Indian criminal by applying “professional methods.” The Times of India, meanwhile, said police tracked him down via a SIM card issued in Vietnam.

"He had been using a SIM card issued in Vietnam but would not make calls from this number. However, he must have forgotten that he had used the same card while speaking to one of his cronies last year. The number entered our records and we started monitoring it," the paper cited an anonymous police source as saying.

"His phone was being tapped. When the name of a local gangster cropped up, the police was certain that it was Pandey who was using the SIM card. ”

Reports from India say Pandey is being kept in an isolated cell of the Mumbai crime branch’s two-storey lock up.

Indian Ambassador Ranjit Rae told Thanh Nien Weekly that this case marked “a high point of the cooperation and trust between India and Vietnam in general and the police authorities in particular.” He commended the relevant agencies of the Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security for their support in apprehending Bunty Pandey.

Asked about the trend of Indian mafia members choosing to set up camp in Southeast Asia, Rae said that “It was necessary to step-up cooperation between the law enforcement authorities of concerned countries.”

Pandey’s journey in crime began in his home state of Nainital in Uttarakhand. He came into his own in 1995, when he helped underworld Don Chota Rajan execute the killing of Thakiyuddin Wahid, managing director of East-West airlines, outside the latter’s office. Wahid had refused to pay extortion money.

His crime run continued for years. Mumbai crime branch chief Himanshu Roy said that Pandey severed ties with the Rajan gang in 2002.

The Indian police source told the Times of India: "He lived in a number of countries, including Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Singapore and Cambodia. But mostly he spent his time in Vietnam where he had a work permit and was posing as a labor contractor and consultant."

Children’s shelter escapees lied about torture: police 

Two of the four children, Huy (R) and Hai, who escaped from a shelter in Dong Nai, show police the place from which they jumped off from a railway bridge, and were injured.

The four children who sparked public outrage with their story of abuse after escaping from a shelter in Dong Nai last month were telling a tall tale, investigators said Wednesday.

Police in the province’s Bien Hoa Town said they would not open an investigation to find evidence for criminal charges against the shelter’s employees.

A 12-year-old child from the shelter, Nguyen Van Be Hai, known to be particularly naughty and the recipient of frequent censure, had encouraged four others – Nguyen Van Quyet, 13, Le Gia Huy, 5, Diep Hieu Trung, 4, and his brother Diep Tuan Khoa, 6 – to flee the shelter at around 1 a.m. on November 8.

Quyet, who woke up later and attempted to follow the other four, was later found wandering in the area, lost, and local residents returned him to the shelter, which takes care of orphaned and abandoned children.

The other four, led by Hai, took a bus to Ho Chi Minh City where they were found by a passerby and taken to the local police. They told the police they fled after being abused at the shelter.

Khoa said he was tied to a toilet and dunked in a water tank after soiling his pants.

However, investigators say the children had made up the stories.

Before fleeing the facility, Khoa had a swollen forehead and swelling around his eyes after he fell down when playing with Hai. All the other children were healthy, police said.

When climbing the shelter’s fence, Huy suffered an injury in his left thumb from a sharp iron spike.

They walked toward HCMC and stopped on a railway bridge in Bien Hoa Town’s Hoa An Commune.

When a train approached, the frightened children jumped off the six-meter-high bridge and suffered injuries.

Huy had a bleeding injury in his left hand while Khoa had a broken right arm and multiple injuries in his belly, back, waist and leg.

Investigators separated the children when taking them to the bridge and all of them identified the same place they’d jumped off from, police said.

The children then took a bus to Le Hong Phong Street in HCMC, where they were found by local resident On Diep Thanh who took them to the Ward 4 police station in District 5. Khoa and Huy were admitted to the Children’s Hospital for treatment while Hai and Trung were taken to the HCMC Social Sponsors Center.

Khoa admitted upon questioning that he had not been tortured by the shelter’s staff as he had claimed earlier.

Huy had said that his belly had been bruised by the edge of a water tank as he was tortured but police found such an injury could not have been caused by the smooth edge of the tank.

Meanwhile, Hai’s eye-witness account of Trung being dunked in a water tank early this year was also not true, investigators concluded, because the latter was actually admitted to the shelter only in June.

Earlier, a senior official at the shelter had denied all accusations and asked for a criminal investigation into the case.

“I was really shocked when they said my husband and I had seriously assaulted them,” Le Thi Thanh Lan, deputy director of the shelter, told the media.

“We consider them our own children and we were in the process of adopting [one of them]. We always bring them with us on vacations or when we go out to eat,” she said. “I have never abused them with clubs and chains as they claim. I want the police to investigate [these accusations].”

On November 10, the Youth Union branch in Dong Nai Province issued a decision to suspend Lan for one month pending an investigation into the children’s claims.

Le Thi My Phuong, director of the Dong Nai Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, said the shelter has played an important role in protecting and taking care of the orphans and abandoned children.

The children have since been returned to the shelter they escaped from, and Lan’s suspension has been lifted.

Vietnamese student assaulted in Australia not of danger 

19-year-old Vu Ngoc Minh, a student at Deakin University’s Melbourne Institute of Business and Technology, is in critical condition after being beaten by a group of youngsters in Australia

An overseas Vietnamese student is still in critical condition more than a week after being beaten up by a group of youngsters in Melbourne on December 26.

Doctor Patrick Dang said 19- year-old Vu Ngoc Minh’s brain injuries will take a long time to heal.

Minh’s cardiovascular system is stable but the doctors need to watch his brain closely, doctors of the Royal Melbourne Hospital told the Tuoi Tre newspaper on Tuesday (January 4).

The Melbourne crime investigation unit is still clueless about the reasons for the attack.

On December 26, Minh, a student of Deakin University’s Melbourne Institute of Business and Technology, was beaten up at the corner of Bourke and Swanton in Melbourne.

Minh’s friend, Le Thanh Tung, said they were shopping when a group of Asian-Australians insulted them. The duo requested store security to call the police but were let down.

Tung and Minh were followed even after they split up to go in separate directions. Tung said he defended himself with his belt when he was threatened with a knife.

Not far away, another group of about six young men brutally attacked Minh, Tung said, adding that his calls for help got no response.

“He was conscious when I found him. He said his head hurt and he was cold.” Minh slipped into unconsciousness in the ambulance, on his way to the hospital.

Richmond police, who started the investigation, transferred the case to the Melbourne Crime Investigation Unit. Initial investigations found that the young men were Asian-Australians but it is unclear why they attacked Tung and Minh, police said.

Vu Ngoc Diep, a cousin who is in touch with Minh’s parents in Melbourne, said on January 3 that Minh was beginning to show some response.

“When his mother held his hand and told him to grasp hers, Minh did it,” he told the Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer) newspaper. “He also attempted to open his eyes.” The parents flew to Australia on December 31 after receiving news of the attack.

Tung is afraid their attackers may return. He said he keeps looking over his shoulder even though he is always accompanied by friends.

Overseas students in Australia have called for a thorough investigation and better security.

According to the Deakin University Vietnamese Student Association (DEVISE), Minh regularly participates in student activities and has never been involved in fights.

The association has donated money to support Minh’s family and has launched an online petition to call for the safety for overseas students in Australia, at http://www.petitiononline.com/safetyoz/pet ition.html.

The petition, which was also sent to the Australian government, said: “We, the overseas students come to Australia with the hope of gaining valuable knowledge for a brighter future. One of the main reasons for choosing this country is because we love Australia.

“In return, we should be assured of protection by the police and authorities. As we are living thousand miles far from our beloved country and families, we always feel to be endangered.”

Police seek child abuse charges against nursery owner 

According to the police, Tran Thi Phung, 52, abused three-year old Ho Thi Thuy Ngan while bathing her on November 23.

Police in the southern province of Binh Duong Monday sought to bring charges of “torturing people” against the owner of a private nursery for maltreating a three-year-old girl last month.


According to the police, Tran Thi Phung, 52, abused three-year old Ho Thi Thuy Ngan while bathing her on November 23. Phung gripped herhair tight, splashed water over her face, stamped and pinned her down to the floor and yelled loudly at the little girl.


Phung, who was running the nursery in Thuan Giao District without a license, was arrested on November 24, one day after footage of the abuse was posted online.


Following the arrest, Binh Duong authorities asked Thuan Giao District to censure leaders of its commune for lax management, allowing Phung’s nursery to operate despite warnings and fines.


Swedish police probe blasts as ‘terror crimes’ 

A fire truck is seen near the wreckage of a car after a blast in the centre of Stockholm December 11, 2010.

Swedish police said Sunday they were investigating two bomb blasts that hit Stockholm’s city center Saturday night as "terror crimes," and they had established good leads in the probe.

"We are investigating this as terror crimes according to Swedish law. We are still investigating the case. In this situation, we have not raised the security (threat) level," Security Police official Anders Thornberg said.

Two blasts rocked the Swedish capital Saturday in a possible attack inspired by anger over Sweden’s presence in Afghanistan. One person died and two people were injured. Local media had received an email with threats shortly before the blasts.

Loan sharks scam HCMC students 


Students unable to repay debts fear for their limbs

Binh left his home in a nearby province and came to Ho Chi Minh City with dreams of a degree.

Struggling with the high costs of living in the city, he failed to pay his university fees in October and ended up borrowing VND5 million (US$256) from a friend.

When the friend asked him to return the money, Binh reluctantly went to one of the many loan sharks that lend money to cash-strapped students in the city.

“I had no choice. Banks and legal loan services won’t give me loans because I have no assets [to mortgage],” he said.

At a money lender’s in an alley off Tran Hung Dao Street in District 1, just steps away from the dormitories of the HCMC University of Economics and the HCMC University of Natural Sciences, Binh was “approved” for a loan at an interest rate of 21 percent per month.

To legalize the loan, Binh was made to sign a document saying he received the money as a deposit for a laptop he would deliver later.

Before he left, the lender warned the student with dire consequences if he failed to pay his debts. “They threatened to contact my family and cut off my limbs,” he said. Thankfully, he was able to pay off his debts within ten days.

But another student, Tu, was not that lucky. He was threatened and seriously bullied all November after failing to pay interest on a loan of VND11 million ($564). Fearing for his limbs and life, Tu borrowed money from his sister to pay off the interest. But he is still mired in debt.

According to Tu, hundreds of students have borrowed money from the same lender, identified only as C.

The 47 universities in HCMC attract thousands of students every year from around the country, especially the southern provinces. Loan sharks lurk around the universities and thrive on ripping off broke students.

Students get mired in extortionate interest rates, often ending up struggling to pay off just the interest, without any hope of getting out of debt.

Abundant bloodsuckers

Following a complaint from a victim student, Thanh Nien conducted an investigation and found hundreds of students who have seen their hardships turn into horrors.

Disguised as a relative repaying a student’s debt, a Thanh Nien reporter found that the loan shark popularly known as C. belongs to a ring with at least three unlicensed lenders around universities in HCMC.

He was told that he could pay the interest at any of the other “branches” in the city – at Street No. 2 near University of Technology in District 10, at D5 Street near a branch of Foreign Trade University in Binh Thanh District, and in the Thu Duc university area in Thu Duc District.

The service on D5 Street appears to be a pawn shop with a board advertising “low-interest loans with easy procedures.” A man called H. directed the “customer” to a nearby service on D2 Street to discuss the loan. However, he refused to lend money when the reporter presented an invalid student card.

Another loan shark in H.’s racket said many other loan sharks in Thu Duc university area charged even higher interest rates, of VND40,000 per day on a VND1 million loan, which works out to be 120 percent per month.

H. also claimed that the ring has tight connections with government and police officials who protect the illegal services.

According to state regulations, interest rates should be no more than 150 percent of the benchmark interest rate set by the State Bank of Vietnam. At the moment, the benchmark rate is 9 percent per annum, and the maximum interest rates charged by money lenders should not exceed 13.5 percent. Violating lenders can be punished by jail terms of up to three years and fines up to ten times the involved interest amount.


Following Thanh Nien’s report published Monday (December 6), the police in District 1 summoned 28-year-old Nguyen Manh Cuong, previously identified as C., for interrogation.

Cuong, who operates the money-lending service on Tran Hung Dao Street confessed he had lent money to students at a monthly interest of 21 percent. He also admitted that he had forced borrowers to sign false documents saying they received the money as a deposit for laptops.

However, he failed to say how many students had borrowed money from him. A subsequent police raid of his facility found records of 29 students who had borrowed a total of VND185 million. The police also found several leaflets introducing his services.

Police said Cuong has so far not revealed any connections with other loansharks’ services in Binh Thanh District or elsewhere in the city.

A District 1 police officer said they are investigating the case and are determined to crack down on the loan sharks.

Meanwhile, several students who had borrowed money from Cuong told Thanh Nien that they received anonymous phone calls instructing them to pay their debt at a facility in Binh Thanh District.

The Binh Thanh District police told Thanh Nien they would verify the information about the loan sharks operating in their jurisdiction.

Vietnam helps Australia probe banknote graft scandal 


Interpol Vietnam has supported Australian police in investigating a case where an international banknote material supplier has been accused of bribing foreign officials in customer countries.


Australian ambassador Allaster Cox revelaed this on the sidelines of the conference of international sponsors in Hanoi Wednesday.


In May 2009, Australian Federal Police began investigating the Australian-owned Securency International following allegations that the firm had engaged in the systemic bribery of foreign officials in nearly 30 countries, including Vietnam.  


The ambassador said the investigation was still under way, and that so far Australia and Vietnam were yet to make official diplomatic exchanges in the case, except for technical collaboration between the countries’ police forces.


Earlier, Pham Anh Tuan, Deputy Chief of the Central Committee for Anti Corruption, had said that Vietnamese investigators were also working with Swedish justice officials in pursuing graft charges related to the scandal.


The case has prompted police in Securency’s custom countries like England, Malaysia and Sweden to launch investigations and several arrests have been made.