Sixteen convicted of adoption fraud in Vietnam
Hanoi - Six people were sentenced to prison and 10 others received probation in a foreign adoption fraud trial in Vietnam, a court official said Tuesday. The medical and social charity workers were convicted of committing fraud in 266 adoptions of local children by foreign parents between 2005 and 2008.
Ngo Tien Hung, vice president of the People's Court in the southern province of Nam Dinh, said all but one of the defendants had pleaded guilty.
Hung said Tran Thi Luong, former director of the Y Yen District Charity Centre, had rejected accusations that she had falsified documents to facilitate adoptions by foreign parents.
The documents typically stated that children had been abandoned by their parents, but in fact parents were often paid by agencies to put children up for adoption, sometimes under false pretenses.
Like other defendants, Luong was convicted of "abuse of official position and power." She was sentenced to 42 months in prison.
Vu Dinh Khan, former director of the Truc Ninh Social Protection Centre, received the longest sentence of 54 months in prison.
Hung said the fraud had begun in early 2005 and was not exposed until July 2008, partly due to poor management of crime investigations by local authorities.
The United States and several other countries have halted adoptions of Vietnamese children because of widespread fraud by Vietnamese adoption agencies. A revision of Vietnam's adoption law is pending in the country's National Assembly.
A report last year by the US embassy in Hanoi detailed a practice of falsely claiming that children had been abandoned by their parents to simplify adoption procedures. Some parents were paid by adoption agencies to allow their children to be listed as abandoned while in other cases children were given away against their parents' wishes.
The report traced to the problem to a law mandating that foreign adoption service providers make donations to Vietnamese orphanages in exchange for facilitating adoptions, creating an incentive for abuse.