Vietnam detains two in Japanese aid graft case

HANOI, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Vietnamese police have detained two former Ho Chi Minh City officials over accusations they received bribes from Japanese contractors in an affair that has led Japan to suspend official aid.

Anti-corruption police have charged the former head of the city's East-West Highway project, Huynh Ngoc Si, with "abuse of power" and searched his house on Wednesday, the government said in a report on the case.

Si's deputy, who was also detained on Wednesday, faces similar charges, it said.

Vietnamese police launched a criminal investigation last December after Tokyo, Vietnam's biggest aid donor, suspended its assistance. The Japanese foreign ministry said in December that new loans had been suspended since August.

The government report, citing files sent from a district court in Tokyo, said Japanese executives from a Tokyo-based consultancy bribed Si with a total of $2.6 million in return for consulting contracts in 2001-2003 on the $660 million highway project that used about $428 million in Japanese loans.

"Vietnam is resolved to clarify the case according to the law in order to bring it to justice and will not let any specific case affect the good relations between the two countries," Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet said on Wednesday in a meeting with Japanese Special Ambassador Sugi Ryotaro.

Ryotaro has told Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung the Japanese government was hoping to resume aid to Vietnam by April. (Reporting by Hanoi Newsroom; Editing by Alan Raybould)