The Vientiane People’s Court has sentenced a former director of Lao Logistics State Enterprise to life imprisonment on charges of corruption.
Director of the Lao Logistics State Enterprise, (LLSE), Mr. Khampheng, was found guilty of abusing his position in the form of embezzlement and bribery, according to an article in the Lao Security News.
In addition to a life imprisonment sentence, the court ordered the sixty-two-year-old to pay the full amount that he embezzled plus a 1% penalty on the money. Assets including two pieces of land and two state-owned cars were seized.
Mr. Khampheng’s accomplices, Chanthavisouk, aged 57, Phonepaseuth, aged 48, and Phousomboun, aged 38, were all initially sentenced to 18 years in prison and ordered to pay back 1% of the losses. Since the three accomplices had returned the money that they had taken, their jail sentences were commuted to 9 years.
What were Khampheng and his accomplices accused of?
Court officials reported that the four men were arrested and taken into custody in January of 2019. An investigation into the matter revealed that illicit activities had begun since Khampheng took the position of director of the state enterprise in 2008.
The activities included receiving bribes for the contracting of the construction of company warehouses in Champassak and Khammouane, stealing fees from the company’s container loading services as well as VAT taxes, using company credit card privileges for personal expenses when traveling abroad, and colluding with other deceitful staff and unethical businessmen to take advantage of the state company.
This has resulted in a tremendous loss to state revenues, estimated to be in the billions of kip. Finally, Khampheng ordered the payment of over LAK 6.3 billion (approximately USD 700,000) worth of the state company’s retirement funds to pay officials in the upper echelons of the Ministry of Finance, and the Khammoune, Bokeo, and Champassak provincial administrations. A total of 343 people had received these payments.
This is a bold step in the anti-corruption activities of the reform-oriented administration led by Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith.
Laos has been ranked 130th on the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI,) two places above the year before, becoming one of a few countries in Southeast Asia to see less corruption. Laos has gradually risen on the index over the past few years. Its ranking rose from 135 in 2017 to 132 in 2018 and 130 in 2019.