Thursday, March 31, 2016

Inspectors uncover widespread illegal logging, vehicle imports

By:  Vientiane Times, March 2, 2016

Inspection authorities have uncovered more than 86,744 cubic metres of illegal logs, the illegal importation of 978 vehicles, and also discovered banking officials taking customers’ money, during inspections carried out in 2015. The illegal logs were found after the authorities investigated suspicious incidents in 12 provinces and Vientiane, according to the 2015 report from the Inspection Committee of the Party Central Committee, and the Government Inspection Authority.

According to the report, upwards of 5,855 cubic metres of illegal logs were seized in two districts of Borikhamxay province. Some 50 people were involved in the illegal cases, comprising 27 state officials, 18 Lao and foreign business people, and five village authority members. Sixty-eight vehicles used to transport illegal logs were seized and fines were levied, amounting to more than 848 million kip. Inspectors also discovered that 978 vehicles – 607 cars and 371 motorbikes – were imported illegally in three provinces. The involved parties have been fined a total amount in excess of 10.7 billion kip. Following their inspection of state-owned commercial banks, the inspectors also found that some banking officials abused their power for personal gain through various means. Some banking officials made fake documents enabling them to withdraw customers’ money, failed to transfer money into customers’ bank accounts as requested, asked for service commission charges from customers, and produced fake documents to transfer money for their personal gain, among other offences.

The above cases were some of the many irregularities exposed by inspectors in 2015.

The inspection authorities said a number of state officials involved in corruption cases had been disciplined.

According to the 2015 report, almost 242 billion kip was found to have been misappropriated and 95 officials involved, including four women, were disciplined. Of the 95 officials, 62 worked in Oudomxay province, 11 in the Ministry of Finance, and 22 were banking officials.

It has been reported that more than 3,000 billion kip was lost through various means, following inspections into state expenditure and revenue collection at 303 targeted bodies within 11 ministries and state organisations, as well as 13 provinces and Vientiane. Just over 467.59 billion kip of the lost money has been recovered, according to the report. The inspection authorities have vowed to retrieve the remaining money.

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