HA NOI — Economic legal entities such as companies and groups may face criminal punishment in addition to civil penalties for breaking the law.
The Revised Criminal Code compiling board is considering adding regulations on criminal liability for legal entities, said deputy director of Justice Ministry’s Department of Criminal and Administrative Law Nguyen Van Hoan, who is also a member of the board.
Current sanctions were not strict enough to prevent violators from repeating offences, he said. For example, many industrial zones and companies found discharging untreated wastewater improperly, seriously damaging the environment and the health of local people, were willing to pay fines to continue their operation.
When it comes to shortcomings in Viet Nam’s current Criminal Code, legal experts often talk about the case of former senior transportation official Huynh Ngoc Sy, who was sentenced to life in prison for accepting US$262,000 in bribes from a Japanese contractor in 2010.
The Japanese firm Pacific Consultants International gave $262,000 to Sy – the then director of the project management board – to win the design consultancy and supervisory bidding package in HCM City’s East-West Boulevard Project in 2003, according to the documents transferred by Japanese authorities to the Vietnamese Government.
A Tokyo court found four members of the firm guilty of unfair competition, while the HCM City Court found Sy guilty of taking bribes. However, Viet Nam’s court was unable to judge the Japanese firm because there was no regulation on criminal liability of legal entities.
Hoan said that regulations on legal entities’ criminal liability could help Viet Nam meet the requirements of international conventions that the country had joined, such as The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime or United Nations Convention against Corruption.
If regulations on criminal liability of legal entities were added to the revised Criminal Code, it was a must to clarify the subjects of legal entities and which violations they would face criminal punishment for, said General Secretary of Viet Nam Lawyers’ Association Dao Tri Ut. He also suggested that criminal liability of economic legal entities be applied to the public services and public administration sectors.