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Vietnamese banker linked to graft

Vietnamese banker linked to graft

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Le Duc Thuy , governor of the State Bank of Vietnam speaks to reporters in Hanoi, Vietnam on Tuesday, August 22, 2006.

The former head of Vietnam’s central bank has been linked to an Australian banknotes scandal, with media reports alleging that bribes helped pay for his child’s British university education.

Melbourne newspaper The Age said polymer notemaker Securency, then partially owned by the Reserve Bank of Australia, paid for Vietnamese bank governor Le Duc Thuy’s child to attend the University of Durham using a “secret slush fund”.

Thuy, head of the Vietnamese central bank between 1999 and 2007, is now chair of the National Finance Supervision Council.

Securency is embroiled in a long-running investigation into claims its agents offered bribes to officials in countries including Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia to win contracts.

Police arrested several people in Britain, Spain, Australia and Malaysia last October.

Sources told The Age the Securency “slush fund” was established with some of the A$15 million (US$14.95 million) in commission paid to middleman Anh Ngoc Luong for helping win huge banknote contracts in Vietnam between 2002 and 2009.

The Age said Australian police suspected Luong’s commissions, paid into Hong Kong and Swiss bank accounts and with the approval of the RBA board, were “diverted to Vietnamese officials or their relatives”.

Securency executives denied direct involvement in the payment of bribes, The Age said.

Neither the RBA nor Securency chairman Bob Rankin returned calls for comment.

In Vietnam, an official at the National Finance Supervision Council said that Thuy was unavailable for comment.

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