Does Communist Party Chief Nguyen Phu Trong commit “not denouncing crime” when briber leaves?

General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong speaking at the closing ceremony of the 13th Congress

On the morning of February 1, 2021, at a press conference about the results of the 13th National Congress of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV),  General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, told the press: “Someone bribes carrying a suitcase of money to the Central Inspection Commission. I told the inspector to open the suitcase to see what it was when he opened it, there was full of dollars. I told him to lock it up, make a record, sign in here, and then take his suitcase back.” According to Mr. Trong, the fight against corruption is difficult and complicated. If there is no courage and genuine feelings, it cannot be done.

Former Standing Vice Chairman of Central Inspection Commission Vu Quoc Hung expressed his opinion to the state-controlled media that the task of the leaders is to choose decent officers, and if the head is a corrupt man, it is the same for choosing cadres. The man who brought the suitcase of dollars to the Central Inspection Commission gave blatant shame.

As for the story that Mr. Trong told as just mentioned, someone said that Mr. Trong told it to get points, but the truth could not have it. Someone insisted this could happen because it happened. Why is it that a person dares to bring a suitcase of money to the Central Inspection Commission – the Party’s supreme advisory body on the issue of inspection and discipline within the Party – to bribe, in front of the General Secretary?

Journalist Vo Van Tao stated his opinion:

Although it seems blatant to bring it to the Party Central Committee’s Inspection Commission, it is realistic but Mr. Trong does not dare to make it up. Because certainly many other people doing this on the commission know, not just Mr. Trong. If he makes it up, he will lose credibility with his subordinates. In the past, Mr. Le Kha Phieu also told a similar story.

As a juror for about ten years, I see with an incident like this that Mr. Trong and the people on the Central Inspection Commission only ask the person bringing the suitcase of money to sign the record, not notice to prosecute or arrest. That means there is a sign of crime ‘no denunciation of crimes’.”

Former General Secretary Le Kha Phieu

In May 2005, during an interview with the state-controlled media about corruption and bribery, former General Secretary Le Kha Phieu also told a similar story. He said that when he was a standing member of the Politburo, he realized that giving bribes was no surprise, it was normal to accept. As for him, there was a time when people gave bribes by leaving a bouquet of five thousand, ten thousand dollars on the table and then leaving.

However, he just called up for a warning, reminded the briber to bring the money back without making a big deal because he wanted to educate from within.

At least 15 years have passed since the story of Mr. Le Kha Phieu, corruption and bribery in Vietnam have become more and more blatant, without saying it, no one knows, as the story of Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong just told.

Attorney Dang Dinh Manh said about the legality in this story:

I hope this is just a gift-making story, that is, for fun. But if this is the real story, there are quite a few problems that must be raised.

First, if the suitcase has a large number of dollars, then surely the person who made the bribery could be punished to the point of death, not a joke. It is clearly a bribe and the money is evidence of a case. Such evidence must be kept and when the trial of the case, this amount must be confiscated for public funds. There is no return for people to carry.

Second, if there is really a way to deal at that time, which is to make a record and then let people take the suitcase with money, then those who know this without denouncing this behavior will be guilty. That is a crime ‘no denunciation of crime’.”

What’s next?

After the story of someone bringing a suitcase of money to the Central Inspection Commission for bribes was told by the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong, it is said that at least Mr. Trong has violated the law by not denouncing a crime with obvious evidence.

Under Vietnamese law, failure to denounce a crime means an act of failing to notify a competent authority about one of the crimes that we know are being prepared, are, or have been committed. Offenders ‘failing to denounce crimes’ will be subject to warning, non-custodial reform for up to 3 years or a prison term of between 6 months and 3 years, as defined in Article 390 of the 2015 Criminal Code, as amended, additions 2017.

Dr. Nguyen Quang A commented that Mr. Trong brought this story to tell with the aim to show off his “pure” achievement, but intangibly, he pointed out that he did not strictly follow the law. Mr. Nguyen Quang A continued:

Mr. Trong told the entire people, the people must ask Mr. Trong who the bribe is and how the briber would be punished. That means now the police and the court or the procuracy have to ask Mr. Trong who is the name who brought a suitcase of money to bribe the Party Central Inspection Commission and must immediately prosecute the bribe. At the same time punish those who have covered or defamed this from now on. Probably the bribe is a very high official of the Communist Party, so Trong did not say.”

According to lawyer Dang Dinh Manh, at least Mr. Trong must be a witness of the incident. Lawyer Manh asked after the incident happened like this, will the authorities handle it? Did Mr. Trong and other witnesses denounce such behavior to the law enforcement agency?

In a rule of the law society, no individual or organization is allowed above the law. The laws of each country cannot go against international practice. However, in Vietnam, the independence of the three branches of power legislative, executive, and judiciary, is only formal, so there are many complex and non-transparent issues. (Translated)


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