Corruption Scandal at Durham University
University linked to corruption case.
This Friday, the court trial of 71-year-old Cumbrian businessman, Bill Lowther, will commence following accusations that he made corrupt payments for the son of a Vietnamese government official to attend Durham University.
Following global investigations, the Serious Fraud Office has alleged that the packaging magnate helped in securing a place for the son of the previous governor of Vietnam’s state-owned bank, Le Duc Thuy.
These corrupt payments are being linked with Lowther, who allegedly paid the fees and accommodation costs to secure a favorable business contract with the Vietnamese government. He will appear at Southwark Crown Court, London.
The governor’s son and Durham alumni, Le Duc Minh, attended Durham’s business school from 2003-4. The accusations are that his university fees and living costs of over £10,000 were paid for by Lowther through corrupt payments.
Now living in Hanoi, Minh reportedly denied living a life of extravagance at the university, “I believe that none of my school friends or lecturers at Durham ever thought that I looked like a rich boy at school.” He also claims his family covered the payments.
In July, Vietnamese local papers reported that Le Duc Thuy had been retired by Vietnam’s prime minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, from his position as State Bank Governor. This was in reaction to revelations that banknote security firm, Securency International, had paid for his son’s education at Durham University.
The case comes after the introduction of the UK Bribery Act in July to cut-down on corruption in the corporate world. The Act will be targeting aspects such as tax evasion and backhand payments to government officials.
Second-year Economics student, Oliver Lubbock has called for the university to employ more vigorous checks on how its fees are paid. “This is a wake-up call to the university that some students may not be here under ethical circumstances and, in that respect, it should be adopting more measures to prevent being linked with similar scandals in the future,” he commented.