Betting scandal impacts on Vietnam's government

Vietnam's ruling Communist Party may be set for a change of guard after disclosures of a betting scandal has touched the highest echelons of the government. According to Jan McGirk in The Independent (UK) , both President Tran Duc Luong, 68, and Prime Minister Phan Van Khai, 72, are expected to announce their retirement when Vietnam's 10th National Congress ends next Tuesday.

"Their anticipated exits follow an explosive series of corruption revelations after the news that more than 200 civil servants embezzled £4 million in government funds - much of it foreign development grants - to gamble on mainly European football matches," she wrote.

General Secretary Nong Duc Manh told more than 1,100 delegates that the party's Central Committee must "seriously make a self-criticism" for allowing corruption to "threaten the survival of our regime" and McKirk pointed oit that "analysts predict that Mr Manh, until recently considered a certainty for a second term as party head, may become the most senior figure brought down by the scandal."

The Transport Minister, Dao Dinh Binh, was compelled to resign two weeks ago after news media broke a scandal involving almost 200 of his ministry's employees. Bui Tien Dung, arrested in January, served as general director of project management unit 18, Transport's infrastructure division. In a single month-long losing streak last year, he placed bets worth £1 million, including £180,000 on a Manchester United-Arsenal game, and £150,000 on a Barcelona-Real Betis match. Earlier winnings had been lavished on mistresses.

"Sports gambling is now an obsession across Vietnam, not just in government offices. It has become so widespread that the national sports ministry may introduce a legitimate system for football bets, to take the lucrative trade out of the hands of cyber-bookmakers and touts, and generate money for the state," McGirk commented.

See also: Vietnam's new regulations on footballer duties (13 Apr) and Vietnam plea for "major surgery on corruption" (5 Apr) and Vietnam Minister suspended over illegal betting (23 Mar) and Vietnamese officials bet thousands on football (2 Feb) and Senior official arrested for gambling in Vietnam (23 Jan)