Ex-PCI executives found guilty of bribery

By Richard High30 January 2009

Three former executives of Japan's Pacific Consultants International (PCI) have been found guilty of bribing a Vietnamese government official in connection with a Japanese government development assistance project in the country.

The defendants - former PCI board director Haruo Sakashita, 62; former PCI managing director Kunio Takasu, 66; former PCI Hanoi office chief Tsuneo Sakano, 59 - had been charged with violating Japan's Unfair Competition Prevention Law, which bans bribing foreign government officials.

PCI, as a corporate entity, was charged with the same offence and has also been found guilty.

Mr Sakashita was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for three years. Mr Takasu was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for three years, and Mr Sakano received an 18 month sentence, suspended for three years.

PCI was fined YEN 70 million (almost US$ 782000).

Prosecutors had asked for a 30 month prison sentence for Mr Sakashita, two years each for Mr Takasu and Mr Sakano and a YEN 100 million (US$ 1.12 million) fine for PCI.

According to the Tokyo District Court ruling, PCI had given Huynh Ngoc Si, director of Ho Chi Minh City's project management unit, bribes totalling about YEN 280 million (US 2.43 million - based on exchange rates at the times the bribes were given) on seven occasions since January 2002.

In exchange Mr Si awarded consulting contracts to PCI in connection with road projects in Ho Chi Minh City. The ruling giving cash to foreign government officials had become a normal practice at the firm.

According to Presiding Judge Toshihiko Sonohara's ruling, the defendants gave Mr Si YEN 66 million (US$ 600000) in bribes in December 2003 and YEN 26 million (US$ 220000) in bribes in August 2006.

Former PCI President Masayoshi Taga, 63, who had been indicted for violation of the same law and fraud, is now on trial separately from the other defendants.

According to Vietnamese officials in Hanoi, Mr Si will be investigated in Vietnam, following his suspension from his job.

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