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Further investigations are underway after three senior traffic police officers in the southern Can Tho City have been arrested for allegedly accepting bribes worth nearly $160,000 from local businesses to give overloaded trucks a free pass.
Colonel Tran Ngoc Hanh, the director of the Can Tho police department confirmed that three police officers Ly Hoang Minh, Vo Hoang Anh and Doan Vu Duy have been arrested, together with a Nguyen Van Can, a local man who helped them collect the money.
The cops confessed to the allegations, saying they collected the money every month from businesses transporting goods by trucks through middleman Can.
Bribes collected since 2014 totalled nearly VND3.5 billion ($157,000). Minh and Anh pocketed over VND3.4 billion in total, 88 percent of which was sent by Can and the rest they had collected in person.
The police are still working on estimating the sum Duy has pocketed and are urging bribery victims to provide information on the case.
In 2014, Can set up three accounts at two banks in Can Tho City and Vinh Long under different names, investigators said. Businesses owning overloaded trucks that passed through Binh Thuy and Ninh Kieu districts were then requested to wire or pay the bribes in cash to middleman Can if they wanted the cops to let the trucks pass freely.
"After establishing a connection with the traffic police, Can solicited a monthly fee to his accounts or in cash (VND1-3 million per truck) from trucking companies. The money would then be distributed to the cops. If a company refused to follow this scheme, they wouldn't be able to operate in peace," said Colonel Tran Thanh Chang, a senior police official.
Some businesses said they did not bribe to overload their trucks, but they had to load more to compensate for the extra "monthly fee" in a bid preserve profits.
Around 60 businesses in the area had to pay the "monthly fee". "Trucks just passing by Can Tho were forced to pay. And they couldn’t run their business without overloading the trucks since the bribery alone would eat up all the profit," said Colonel Hanh.
On Friday, the Department of Transport in Can Tho took responsibility for the truck bribery. Spokesperson of the Department of Transport Trinh Ngoc Vinh told VnExpress that he was very surprised that his subordinates pocketed nearly VND3.5 billion. “We would like to take responsibility for the incident that has caused frustration to the public," Vinh said.
Leaders of the Department of Transport of Can Tho said the three arrested police officers appeared to be people who are qualified for the job, which has allowed them to assume high positions in the inspection team.
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