News24

Jail for adoption scammers

2009-09-28 18:07

Hanoi - Six Vietnamese were on Monday sentenced to prison terms for their roles in a graft scandal which saw hundreds of babies adopted by foreigners, a court official said.

The six were jailed for between two and four-and-a-half years after being convicted of "abuse of power in the exercise of their public missions," said Nguyen Tien Hung, vice-president of the court in northern Nam Dinh province.

Ten others received suspended sentences of between 15 and 18 months at the end of a trial which began last Tuesday, Hung said.

Among the accused were two directors of provincial social welfare centres, as well as doctors, nurses and local officials, Thanh Nien newspaper reported.

They were accused of assembling false documents of abandonment to allow the adoption of more than 200 infants by foreigners between 2005 and 2008, according to reports in both Thanh Nien and the Phap Luat (Law) newspaper.

Kickbacks

The scheme earned each of those involved millions of dong in kickbacks, Thanh Nien reported on its website.

Vu Dinh Ky, one of the accused, received 28 million dong ($1 593) for faking the documents of 14 newborn children but told the court "it was just to help the babies," the reports said.

Another accused paid mothers with unwanted pregnancies to have their babies and leave them in the care of district medical centres, it said.

The two key suspects were arrested in July last year, three months after the United States embassy in Hanoi detailed endemic baby-selling and graft in Vietnam's adoption system.

That US report led Vietnam to suspend a bilateral adoption agreement.

Vu Duc Long, head of the Vietnamese Justice Ministry's international adoptions department, said at the time that most children sent for overseas adoption from the two Nam Dinh centres went to France and Italy, and some to the United States.

The children came from a disabled children's home and a social protection centre.