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Vietnam probes banknote bribery involving governor   2010-11-27 - Tuoitrenews

Vietnam central agencies are initiating probe into a Hanoi-based company for allegedly taking US$10 million in return for securing an Australian firm a lucrative contract procuring polymer for printing banknotes in Vietnam.

The Central Anti-Corruption Committee said Thursday it has asked Swiss judicial agencies to provide information related to bank accounts and other suspicious transactions made by Hanoi-based CFTD Technologies Co, Ltd and its Australia agent - Securency International, a polymer provider.

Switzerland is where bribery payments were reportedly made by Securency, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Australia, to foreign officials and firm executives.

Swiss Ambassador to Vietnam Jean Hubert Lebet told Tuoi Tre Switzerland has agreed to supply such information.

The case cracked open after Australian federal police in June last year launched investigations into Securency following claims in Australian daily The Age that Securency, which makes polymer for banknotes in 26 countries, paid lucrative commissions to overseas businesspeople for contracts.

According to The Age, Securency has paid more than US$10 million in commissions to Vietnamese executives from CFTD.

Since then, several Securency staff in Malaysia, Switzerland, the UK and Australia have already been arrested.

Tainted money

Back in early 2000s, Securency, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Australia, won a contract to supply polymer in Vietnam, to be printed into banknotes by the Vietnamese CFTD company. The latter was authorized by the State Bank of Vietnam - the country’s central bank - to print plastic notes under a government’s plan to replace all paper notes in 2002.

The incident attracted public attention after it was found that CFTD at the time employed Le Duc Minh for two months. Minh is the son of Le Duc Thuy, the then governor of the State Bank of Vietnam.

Speculations that Minh pulled strings led to an inspection in 2007 by the Government Inspectorate - a central agency responsible for financial investigation independent of the police - which found no wrongdoings.

The Inspectorate back then concluded that CFTD followed regulations in signing contracts and that Minh’s employment at CFTD was only coincidental which unjustly tarnished the governor’s reputation.

Vietnam started to switch to using polymer notes from 2002, since when several currency-related scandals broke including blurred polymer, tainted banknotes and fake ones.

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