Vietnam Minister suspended over illegal betting

Vietnam's deputy transport minister, Nguyen Viet Tien, has reportedly been suspended in a widening corruption scandal involving state funds. The Vietnam News Agency says the suspension order was issued by Prime Minister Phan Van Khai. Tien has already been questioned by police over the disappearance of millions of dollars of state money designated for construction projects.

Corrupt officials at a section of the transport ministry, known as PMU18, bet some of the money on top English and Spanish league football matches. The PMU18 is in charge of highway and other major infrastructure projects in Vietnam. Tien was director general of the section from 1993 to 1998 before being promoted to deputy minister.

In February it was revealed that Vietnam police had identified five leaders and four officers from State agencies who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in an illegal betting ring. Bui Tien Dung (pictured at his arrest in January), general director of PMU18 road construction project and Nguyen Viet Bac, vice director of Vietnam Expressways Corporation admitted their involvement in the betting ring.

The others were reportedly Bui Tien Dung’s superior, the general director of a State agency, and the director of a road construction project management board. Four officers include two from Vietnam’s Ministry of Transport and two policemen in Hanoi.

See also: Vietnamese officials bet thousands on football (2 Feb) and Senior official arrested for gambling in Vietnam (23 Jan) .