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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 April 2006, 16:00 GMT 17:00 UK
Vietnam ministry hit by scandal
File photograph of Dao Dinh Binh
Ministerial resignations in Vietnam are extremely rare
The Vietnamese transport minister has offered to resign and his deputy has been arrested amid a major official corruption scandal.

In a letter to the prime minister, Dao Dinh Binh accepted responsibility for the embezzlement of millions of dollars of state money by his staff.

His deputy, Nguyen Viet Tien, was arrested and his home was searched.

Ministry officials are accused of using money from construction projects and taking bribes.

They allegedly used the money to bet on football matches.

Ministerial resignations are extremely rare in Vietnam.

'Economic violations'

"I'm very saddened and would like to take full responsibility for what happened at the ministry," the Tien Phong [Pioneer] newspaper quoted Mr Binh's resignation letter as saying.

Mr Binh was responsible for overseeing the Project Management Unit (PMU) 18, which funded highways, bridges and other infrastructure projects.

His deputy, Mr Tien, was arrested on charges of wrongdoing and violating the government's regulations on economic management.

It comes as the Vietnamese government is publicly cracking down on the country's endemic levels of corruption.

The anti-graft campaign has intensified ahead of the ruling Communist Party's five-yearly congress later this month.

Dr Nguyen Dinh Cu, author of a government study on corruption in Vietnam, told the BBC that Mr Binh's resignation was "a strong warning to those corrupted officials, that more than ever before, their crime will be punished".

In June 2004, Agriculture Minister Le Huy Ngo stepped down over a corruption case, the first to do so since the 1980s.

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