Seven Meter scammers arrested in Vietnam

Police in southern Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City have arrested seven executives for involvement in an electric power meter scam that lost the country more than US$6 million (Ђ4.91 million).

The executives former city electricity company deputy director Le Van Hoanh, his five staff members and Tran Cong Dien, deputy director of Singapore's Linkton company's subsidiary in Vietnam, were taken into police custody Wednesday, the Youth newspaper said.

Hoanh and his staff members were accused of "intentionally contravening state economic management regulations causing serious consequences" while Dien was accused of counterfeiting, it said.

It also said police have issued an arrest warrant for U.S. citizen Wong Ka Ho, deputy director of Linkton's Vietnam subsidiary, Linkton Vina.

The case involves the purchase of 312,000 malfunctioning power meters since last year for the households in the city at inflated prices causing US$6.2 million losses to the state, according to the AP.

The newspaper said in 2003, Electricity of Vietnam Corp. approved a plan by state-owned Ho Chi Minh City Electricity Company, or HEC, to buy 40,000 power meters at the rate of 340,000 dong (US$21) a piece to replace old meters at the clients' houses.

HEC, however, bought 312,000 power meters from Linkton at the price of 580,000 dong (US$36.5) a piece, it said.

The company also violated government's regulations by accepting the meters made by the Linkton subsidiary in Vietnam, instead of the items directly imported from Linkton in Singapore.

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