[JURIST] Nine defendants, including three former Vietnamese government officials, accused of involvement in organized gambling and bribery went on trial Wednesday before the Hanoi People's Court. Bui Tien Dung, a former project management head in the Ministry of Transportation [official website], allegedly placed bets totaling $760,000 on European soccer matches and subsequently attempted to cover up the alleged wrongdoing by paying a bribe of $68,000. If convicted of bribery, Dung could face the death penalty. Other defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for gambling, which is strictly illegal in Vietnam. The trial is expected to last three days.
Dung headed the Project Manage Unit (PMU) 18, which is responsible for the construction of roads and bridges and a is recipient of aid from the World Bank [official website] and other countries. The World Bank said in May that it found no evidence of fraud or corruption [press release] after conducting an independent review of PMU 18, although it noted shortcomings in transparency and accounting structures. The gambling-bribery scandal has resulted in the resignation [VOA report] of Transportation Minister Dao Hinh Binh and the arrest of his deputy Nguyen Viet Tien. Reuters has more.