Vietnam loses aid funding worth £4m on football bets

Vietnam's ruling Communist Party is set for a change of guard after a betting scandal which has touched the highest echelons of the government.

Both President Tran Duc Luong, 68, and Prime Minister Phan Van Khai, 72, are expected to announce their retirement when Vietnam's 10th National Congress ends next Tuesday. Their anticipated exits follow an explosive series of corruption revelations after the news that more than 200 civil servants embezzled £4m in government funds - much of it foreign development grants - to gamble on mainly European football matches.

General Secretary Nong Duc Manh told more than 1,100 delegates that the party's Central Committee must "seriously make a self-criticism" for allowing corruption to "threaten the survival of our regime". Analysts predict that Mr Manh, until recently considered a certainty for a second term as party head, may become the most senior figure brought down by the scandal.

The Transport Minister, Dao Dinh Binh, was compelled to resign two weeks ago, an extremely rare move in the Vietnamese politburo.

Flush with development grants from Japan and the World Bank, Vietnamese officials have found it increasingly hard to resist the urge to bet. Aid money was diverted to football bets, real estate deals and bribery.

The scandal unravelled earlier this year with the confession of Bui Tien Dung. Before his arrest in January, Mr Dung served as general director of project management unit 18, an infrastructure division under Vietnam's Ministry of Transport. In a single month-long losing streak last year, he placed bets worth £1m, including £180,000 on a Manchester United-Arsenal game, and £150,000 on a Barcelona-Real Betis match. Earlier winnings had been lavished on mistresses.

An office computer log showed almost 200 ministry employees followed suit and wagered online with government funds earmarked for bridges and roads. Mr Dung took pride in loaning out his department's luxury vehicles to cronies.

Mr Dung, who had accumulated nearly £5.6m in savings, equivalent to 158 times his bureaucrat's salary, has since been jailed on charges of gambling, deliberated wrongdoing and offering bribes.

Meanwhile, the highways of Vietnam remain as full of holes as the excuses Mr Dung came up with to explain how the aid money entrusted to him vanished. He had personally controlled 70 per cent of the country's transport budget and frittered much of it away.

Eventually Mr Dung confessed to betting government funds worth £4m on football alone. Mr Dung's boss and patron, Nguyen Viet Tien, a former deputy transport minister, was pressured to turn himself in after the scandal broke.

A top public security ministry investigator, Major General Cao Ngoc Oanh, insisted that anti-corruption officers spurned the proferred bribes: "I was never so silly as to handcuff Bui Tien Dung with one hand and take his money with the other," the investigator said.

Sports gambling is now an obsession across Vietnam, not just in government offices. It has become so widespread that the national sports ministry may introduce a legitimate system for football bets, to take the lucrative trade out of the hands of cyber-bookmakers and touts, and generate money for the state.

Meanwhile, a Communist government that labelled gambling as a scourge continues to promote its own national lottery as a civic duty, under the slogan "The lottery is useful for both the country and the individual family."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific