Japan suspended aid for a $41 million railway project in Hanoi until Vietnam returns $782,000 in bribe money a Japanese contractor gave officials at Vietnam’s state railway company.
Yamamoto Kenichi from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) said last week in Hanoi that Japan will restart funding for the project after Vietnam returns the money that Tokyo-based Transportation Consultants (JTC) Inc. paid to executives at Vietnam Railways, Thah Nien News said.
In July, prosecutors in Tokyo charged three former top JTC executives with bribery. Ex-JTC chairman Tamio Kakinuma was charged, as well as the former CEO Tatsuro Wada, and a former board member, Koji Ikeda.
Kakinuma was convicted of approving some of the bribes, according to reports.
Japanese prosecutors said the three former JTC executives bribed officials in Vietnam, Indonesia, and Uzbekistan. Payments from 2008 to 2014 totalled about $1.6 million. The bribes were connected to contracts funded with Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA).
At least six people have been arrested in Vietnam for taking bribes from JTC, including Tran Quoc Dong, deputy general director of Vietnam Railways.
Japan suspended new ODA funding to Vietnam in June last year because of the scandal.
The bribery was discovered in April 2013 when Tokyo tax authorities saw unusual expense claims related to JTC’s five ODA projects.
In January 2009, three Japanese executives and their company were convicted in a Tokyo court of paying $820,000 to a senior Vietnam government official to secure contracts for road projects backed by Japanese ODA money.
The bribes went to Huynh Ngoc Sy, a former deputy director of Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Transport.
Under Japanese law, bribing a foreign officials carries a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine up to 5 million yen ($49,000).
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.