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Van Thịnh Phat chairwoman faces death penalty for region’s largest financial crimes

HCM CITY (Vietnam News) – Truong My Lan, chairwoman of real estate developer Vạn Thịnh Phat, is facing death penalty for bribery, violating bank regulations and embezzlement, which is considered the largest financial scandal in Southeast Asia.

Truong My Lan, 68, chairwoman of real estate developer Vạn Thịnh Phat, is facing death penalty for bribery, violating bank regulations and embezzlement.--Photo VNA/VNS

At an ongoing trial on Tuesday in HCM City, the city People’s Procuracy proposed the “most severe penalty” for the chairwoman for accusation of misappropriating VND304 trillion from Saigon Commercial Joint Stock Bank (SCB), the largest private lender by assets in Vietnam.
The People’s Procuracy has cited the serious nature of her crimes, which have had serious consequences and have little possibility of recovery.
While all other defendants in the case have admitted to the charges brought against them, the 68-year-old real estate tycoon is the only one who maintains her innocence.
She had also rejected the prosecution’s accusation that she manipulated the lender’s operations, saying that she only owned a 5 percent stake in the bank.
She explained that remaining stakes were held by her two daughters (5 percent each) and friends in Vietnam (30 percent) and overseas (30 percent).
The police have seized millions of US dollars in cash and frozen assets linked to Lan, with the funds intended to be used to compensate for damages at SCB and repay bond victims.
The chairwoman is currently being tried for bribery, violating bank regulations and embezzlement, and could face the death penalty if found guilty.
Lan’s husband and niece are also among the accused, as well as numerous SCB executives and government officials.
They all face charges of embezzlement, bribery, abuse of power while performing official duties, lack of responsibility causing serious consequences, and violating bank regulations.
Earlier, the real estate tycoon had offered to sell off her personal assets to compensate for all the damages without providing specific information about the assets when asked by the judge.
Vạn Thịnh Phat had a network of 1,000 fake companies set up by the chairwoman in order to “borrow” money from the bank and to acquire shares in it.
In 2011, Lan was proposed by the central bank to merge two other private banks with SCB, the largest private bank by assets in Vietnam.
Between 2012 and 2022, SCB gave Lan over 2,500 loans worth over VND1 quadrillion, or 93 percent of its loans. In all, she is accused of causing losses of VND498 trillion to the bank.
To hide the lender’s poor financial problems, Lan bribed various government auditors and inspectors.
The value of Lan’s alleged asset appropriation, which occurred between 2012 and 2022, was equivalent to over 10 per cent of Vietnam’s GDP in 2022.
Due to the complexity of the case and the large number of defendants involved, the trial is expected to take a huge amount of time before a final decision is reached.
The trial is expected to last until the end of next month.
The trial will be conducted in “a fair and transparent manner, without any restrictions or privileges,” so as to uphold the public’s trust in the Party and the State, according to the People’s Procuracy.
The chairwoman’s arrest at the end of 2022 came as part of a national corruption crackdown that has swept up many officials and members of the country’s business elite in recent years.


(Latest Update March 21, 2024)

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