Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI – The Supreme People’s Procuracy has decided to prosecute Hà Văn Thắm, 44, former chairman of Commercial Joint-Stock OceanBank for lapses that led to huge losses.
Thắm along with 47 other defendants - mostly former leaders of the bank - have been prosecuted for violation of regulations related to lending operations of credit institutions, abuse of power and commission of deliberate acts against state regulations on economic management, which resulted in serious consequences. The charges levelled against Thắm will condemn him to a combined 30 years in prison.
Under Thắm’s helm – who controls the majority of OceanBank’s shares (62.79 per cent) – the bank incurred bad debt of VNĐ15 trillion (US$659 million) by March 2014, as a result of unlawful directives.
As per the indictment, from 2011 to 2014, Thắm gave the go-ahead for non-contractual payment of interest rates to OceanBank’s depositors – 51,000 individuals and 392 economic institutions.
These interest rates were not shown on deposit contracts and passbooks signed between depositors and OceanBank, which was against the law, causing a loss of $66 million.
Some of the bank’s largest depositors were economic institutions of enterprises with large state capital, such as the state-owned Petrovietnam Construction JSC and Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (Vinashin).
The Public Security Ministry’s investigation police issued dispatches ordering the above mentioned 392 economic institutions to explain and supply relevant documents regarding their deposits at OceanBank and return all gains made from the illegal non-contractual interest payment.
However, till date, only 143 institutions have responded, and of these, just 19 have admitted to illegal activity and returned a mere VNĐ3 billion ($131,820).
Thắm was arrested in 2014 after it was discovered that he had granted the HCM City-based real estate firm Trung Dũng a loan of VNĐ500 billion ($22 million) without security; the company later defaulted on the loan.
In 2015, the State Bank of Việt Nam acquired OceanBank’s shares at zero VNĐ, becoming the sole owner of OceanBank’s charter capital, estimated then at VNĐ4 trillion ($190.48 million). – VNS