Criminal Law

12 Firms’ Executives sentenced for embezzling State Money

Date: 24 April 2018; Type: Legal News; Source: Vientiane Times

Heavy penalties face 13 top executives of 12 companies, a law court in Oudomxay province ruled recently, with the executives imprisoned, fined and ordered to repay multibillions in kip of state money that was embezzled.

The companies operating construction, survey and engineering services were found involved in fake projects and works, and unapproved state investment projects, a senior official of the provincial People’s Court told Vientiane Times yesterday.

The companies offered a 30/70 private/state investment scheme to carry out construction and remedial works for state projects damaged by flooding. This meant the private investors offered to subsidise 30 percent of the total investment cost, while the remaining 70 percent fell under the responsibility of the government.

Most of the offered projects were concerning infrastructure, with intended works to repair damage caused by severe flooding that hit the Northern provinces in 2013, the official with knowledge of the case said.

But many projects did not actually exist, despite allocation and dispersal of money. Several projects were also initially unapproved, which violates the State Investment Law.

There was no action to implement works, despite financial backing and dispersal of money, the Security Newspaper published by the Ministry of Public Security, reported on Monday.

Thirteen directors of the 12 companies were charged with embezzling state assets, attempted bribery, and the production and use of fraudulent documents regarding the projects.

One businessman involved in the illegal scheme was able to escape, according to information from the provincial Public Security Headquarter.

In its ruling on April 11, the court ordered prison for the 13 executives, varying from three-months and 18 days, up to three-years and nine-months.

The business executives were also judged to repay losses of state assets, amounting to multibillions in kip, back to the state with a combined fine of hundreds of millions of kip.

Earlier this year, 28 state officials involved in the scheme were prosecuted for corruption and bribery charges.

In that ruling, the court imprisoned the involved officials for durations between two to eight years, according to the provincial Public Security Headquarters.

The case has gained great public attention as it appeared to be one of the high profile cases in which numerous private businessmen and state officials were involved.

In 2013, Oudomxay was severely hit by storms killing 17 people washing away houses, crops, livestock and infrastructure, bringing estimated loss to more than 297 billion kip. Some 9,600 people over four districts were reported affected by the disaster - the worst in decades.

Two villages were badly damaged and 160 people injured by flashflooding, and the population was resettled to a new area.

Considering these events, a number of projects were introduced to address the community losses and damages. Seeing opportunities, corrupt officials and nefarious businesses conspired to conduct the illegal scheme for personal gain.

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