Vietnam has sentenced real estate magnate Truong My Lan to death in its biggest fraud case

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A court in the southern city of Ho Chi Minh sentenced real estate magnate Truong My Lan to death on Thursday. Vietnam In the country's biggest financial fraud case, state media Vietnam Net reported.

The 67-year-old chairman of the real estate firm, Van Dinh Phat Formally accused of embezzling $12.5 billion – Almost 3% of the country's GDP by 2022.

Lan illegally controlled the Saigon Joint Stock Commercial Bank between 2012 and 2022 and sanctioned 2,500 loans, resulting in $27 billion in losses for the bank, according to state media VnExpress. The court asked her to pay the bank $26.9 million in damages.

Despite the mitigating circumstances – this was the first time the crime and Lan participated in charitable activities – the court attributed its harsh sentence to the seriousness of the case, given that Lan led a planned and sophisticated criminal enterprise that had serious consequences. It is possible that the money will be recovered, VnExpress said.

His actions “not only violate the property management rights of individuals and companies but also put SCB (Saigon Joint Stock Commercial Bank) under special control; undermine people's trust in the leadership of the party and the state,” VnExpress quoted the ruling as saying.

Her daughter-in-law Truong Hieu Van, the chief executive of Van Dinh Pot, was sentenced to 17 years in prison for aiding her aunt, and Lan's husband, Eric Xu Nap-ki, from Hong Kong, was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Lan and his family founded Van Thing Bot in 1992, when Vietnam was abandoning its state-run economy in favor of a market-oriented approach open to foreigners. She started helping her mother, a Chinese entrepreneur, sell cosmetics in an ancient market in Ho Chi Minh City, state media Tien Phong reported.

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With projects including luxury residential buildings, offices, hotels and shopping centers, Van Thinh Phat will grow into one of Vietnam's richest real estate companies. This made him a key player in the country's financial sector. He arranged for the 2011 merger of the stricken SCB Bank with two other lenders in coordination with Vietnam's central bank.

The court found that he used this approach for SCB money. He allegedly owned more than 90% of the bank's shares — a charge he denies — and approved thousands of loans to “ghost companies,” according to government documents. These loans were returned to her, state media VnExpress reported citing the court. Findings.

He then bribed officials to cover his tracks.

Former central bank official Do Thee Nan was also sentenced to life in prison on Thursday for accepting $5.2 million in bribes.

Lan's arrest in October 2022 is one of the most high-profile ongoing cases Anti-corruption movement in Vietnam It has intensified since 2022. The Blazing Furnace campaign has reached the highest levels of Vietnamese politics. Former President Vo Van Tuong resigned March after campaigning.

But Lan's trial shocked the nation. Analysts said the scale of the fraud raised the question of whether other banks or businesses had made similar mistakes. Downgrades Vietnam's economic outlook And Vietnam is shaking up foreign investors at a time when it is trying to position itself as a better home for businesses trying to move their supply chains away from China.

The real estate sector in Vietnam has been particularly hard hit. An estimated 1,300 property companies are off the market by 2023, developers are offering discounts and gold as prizes to lure buyers, and rents for mixed-use properties, known as shophouses in Southeast Asia, have fallen by a third. Ho Chi Minh CityMany in the city center are still vacant, according to state media.

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In November, Vietnam's top politician, General Secretary of the Communist Party Nguyen Phu Trong, said the anti-corruption campaign would “continue for a long time”.

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