Vietnamese billionaire sentenced to death in $12.5 billion fraud case

Vietnamese billionaire sentenced to death in $12.5 billion fraud caseVietnamese billionaire sentenced to death in $12.5 billion fraud case
via Báo Tuổi Trẻ
Michelle De Pacina
April 11, 2024
Vietnamese property tycoon Truong My Lan, who was accused of embezzling around $12.4 billion, was sentenced to death for her involvement in the country’s largest financial fraud case.
Key points:
  • On Thursday, Lan was sentenced to death after she was found guilty of embezzlement. She also received a 20-year prison term each for bribery and violating banking regulations.
  • The scandal is the largest corruption case in Southeast Asian history, surpassing the 1MDB scandal in Malaysia, which involved the theft of $4.4 billion from the country’s sovereign wealth fund.
Catch up:
  • Lan, chairwoman of Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group, was accused of unlawfully obtaining assets from Saigon Joint Stock Commercial Bank (SCB), where she controlled over 90% of the bank’s lending between 2012 and 2022. 
  • Over several years, Lan operated over 1,000 domestic and foreign subsidiaries and shell companies, securing more than $43 billion in loans from SCB, with approximately one-third of this sum misappropriated through the creation of “ghost companies” by her, her family and associates.
The details:
  • Lan was first arrested in 2022, and more than 80 others, including central bank officials, were also implicated in the case. The scandal came to light after the ruling Vietnamese Communist Party set out an anti-corruption campaign, dubbed “Blazing Furnace,” resulting in the removal of top officials since 2021. 
  • “The defendant’s actions not only violate the property management rights of individuals and organizations but also put SCB under scrutiny, eroding people’s trust in the leadership of the Party and State,” the jury was quoted as saying on Thursday. 
  • In the same case, 84 defendants received various sentences, ranging from three years of probation to life imprisonment, as reported by Thanh Nien newspaper. Notable among them are Lan’s husband and Hong Kong businessman, Eric Chu, who received a nine-year jail term, and her niece, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison.
  • Lan reportedly plans to appeal the verdict. “We will keep fighting to see what we can do,” a family member told Reuters.
Other corrupt officials: 
  • In light of the news, there are suggestions that more major scandals and arrests are expected, including of the former party boss of Ho Chi Minh City, Le Thanh Hai, who is seen by many in the country as a symbol of corruption. 
  • Last month, the Vietnamese government announced the resignation of its second president, Vo Van Thuong, due to alleged violations that negatively impacted the public perception and reputation of the party and state. 
  • The resignation follows the departure of his predecessor, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who was forced out due to corruption scandals involving officials under his leadership.
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