PCI ‘bribed’ Vietnamese official

A manager of a Vietnamese organization that oversaw a multibillion yen highway construction project in Ho Chi Minh City received bribes allegedly paid by Pacific Consultants International to secure the contract for the project, which was funded with Japanese official development assistance, a PCI source said.

It also has been learned that PCI allegedly paid bribes on at least two occasions–once in 2003 and once in 2006–reportedly instructed to do so by the headquarters of the major consultancy firm.

“Headquarters ordered us to give money as remuneration for receiving the order,” a former PCI executive reportedly told the special investigation squad at the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office.

Investigators are looking into whether PCI violated the Unfair Competition Prevention Law by bribing an overseas public official.

PCI received about 1.1 billion yen in fiscal 2001 for consultancy work on a project to build a highway traversing Ho Chi Minh City from east to west. In fiscal 2003, a consortium that included PCI and other firms won a contract worth about 2 billion yen. Both were for ODA works funded with yen loans.

According to the PCI source, a manager of PMU–the organization managing the highway construction project–received the alleged bribes.

PMU is a management organization established by the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee–an administrative organization similar to a city office in Japan. It is responsible for overseeing infrastructural improvements such as roadworks and waterworks.

The cross-city highway was a massive project that involved tunneling under the Saigon River in the city. The total project cost was about 80 billion yen.

The alleged bribes were paid in spring 2003, immediately after the consortium received the order for consultancy work, and again in 2006. Both payments were in U.S. dollars, reportedly amounting to a sum equivalent to several tens of millions of yen.

“Both the payments were ordered by the headquarters,” a former PCI executive is said to have told investigators during questioning. The executive also reportedly said the funding in 2003 was “remuneration to get the order.”

The executive later worked as the head of an affiliated company in Hong Kong that was allegedly used by PCI as part of a tax evasion scam. PCI sent money to that company to help win contracts for ODA projects in southeast Asia.

Investigators plan to cooperate with judicial authorities in Vietnam to investigate the alleged shady funding.

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20080629dy09.htm

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