|The Ha Noi People's Court opened the first hearing of a trial yesterday on a corruption case involving a branch of the State-owned Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank) and the loss of over VND2.425 trillion (US$107.57 million). — Photo dangcongsan.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — The Ha Noi People's Court opened the first hearing of a trial yesterday on a corruption case involving a branch of the State-owned Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank) and the loss of over VND2.425 trillion (US$107.57 million).
Thirteen of the 18 defendants are former Agribank officials, while four are former customs officers and one is a former company director.
They are charged with violating lending regulations and abusing their positions that led to serious consequences.
According to the indictment, from August 2008 to August 2012, Pham Thi Bich Luong – former director of the South Ha Noi branch – asked Agribank's board of directors to raise her authority to approve loans, sign mortgage contracts and disburse loans that the branch had provided for "ghost" projects of the Lifepro Viet Nam Joint Venture Company, the Vietmade Joint Stock Company and the Lifepro Viet Nam Joint Stock Company.
Lifepro Viet Nam Joint Venture Company, which was initially founded in 2007 as the Enzo Viet Joint Stock Company with registered investment in a weaving, dyeing and garments factory worth nearly VND530 billion ($23.5 million) in Ninh Binh Province, was reported at the trial to have changed investment certificates and shareholders as well as rename its garments projects many times.
Through changing the legal entity and renaming the garments project, they compiled dossiers to seek loans at the branch to buy machinery, equipment and materials and to transfer six fashion brands. The total misappropriated money exceeded VND2.425 trillion.
The indictment said Luong directed the compilation of a dossier seeking more authority to approve loans for the LifeproViet Nam Company based only on the information given by the firm without conducting background checks.
She also directed the verification and disbursement of loans for the Lifepro Viet Nam Joint Venture Company. Luong intentionally ignored loan disbursement conditions set by Agribank's board of directors for the supply of foreign currency loans.
She also failed to ensure strict inspections of how the money was to be used, and subsequently ignored the fact her branch was being cheated by the Lifepro Viet Nam Joint Venture Company, according to the indictment.
The ex-director is being prosecuted for violating lending regulations for credit institutions (pursuant to Item 3 of Article 179 of the Penal Code) and abusing his position and authority while performing duties (pursuant to Item 3 of Article 281 of the Penal Code).
Besides Luong, Pham Thanh Tam, former director general of Agribank, was charged with deliberately violating the bank's regulations by signing for a loan worth $75 million at the South Ha Noi branch.
He also signed a decision to raise the short-term credit loan for Lifepro Viet Nam to VND400 billion ($17.7 million), which was VND320 billion higher than permitted. He also let the branch to disburse $50 million, $15 million higher than permitted, for Lifepro Viet Nam without a guarantee.
Other bank staff were found to have been aware of the careless lending, but did nothing to prevent it.
Luong and her deputy, Chu Thi Kim Hien, admitted to taking $898,000 in a bribe from the company, of which Tam pocketed $310,000.
Five foreigners, including a Chinese national, three Canadians and one Italian at Lifepro Viet Nam, have been charged with misappropriating assets from Agribank's South Ha Noi branch.
The Ministry of Public Security issued a decision to prosecute the five foreigners for fraud, but they fled Viet Nam and police had to suspend the investigation.
The first hearing is scheduled to last for 10 days.
HCM City branch
Also yesterday, the HCM City People's Court handed down sentences to nine defendants related to a financial loss case at another branch of Agribank in HCM City.
Pham Van Cu, former director of the Agribank Branch 7, was sentenced to 20 years in prison; Kieu Dinh Tho, former head of the Agribank Branch 7's Business Plan Division, 16 years; and Do Thi Thu Ha, former deputy head of the division, nine years, on charges of "breaching regulations on lending in credit organisations' activities".
The court also sentenced Pham Trinh Thang, former chairman of the board of directors at Mai Khoi Limited Company, to life imprisonment; and Duong Thi Kim Luyen, Thang's wife and former director of Mai Khoi, to 20 years in prison.
Hoang Van Binh will serve 12 years behind bars, Ngo Thi Thanh Mai, seven years; and Duong Cong Kien and Huynh Truong Huy; both eight years.
Thang, Luyen and their four accomplices were sentenced on the charge of "swindling to appropriate assets".
According to the court's indictment, the defendants caused a total loss of more than VND600 billion ($26.7 million) to Agribank Branch 7.
From 2009-2011, Thang and Luyen falsified documents and financial reports in order to raise post-tax profits, and created a phony business plan to borrow capital from the bank.
Thang and his wife did not use the money for business purposes but instead bought many assets, shares and agricultural land for housing projects.
Meanwhile, Cu ordered Tho and Ha to handle the documents from Mai Khoi Company even when required papers had not been verified.
After the announcement of the indictment, the court released the decision to commence legal proceedings against the case of "giving and receiving bribes".
The dossier will be sent to the Investigation Agency under the Supreme People's Procuracy for further investigation.
List of 18 defendants at the trial case of Agribank – South Ha Noi Branch
1. Pham Thi Bich Luong, 46, former director of Agribank's South Ha Noi Branch
2. Chu Thi Kim Hien, 57, former deputy director of Agribank's South Ha Noi Branch
3. Pham Thanh Tam, 60, former director general of Agribank
4. Do Tien Long, 40, credit staff of Agribank's South Ha Noi Branch
5. Nguyen Thi Nguyet Thanh, 35, former head of International Payment Department, Agribank's South Ha Noi Branch
6. Nguyen Huu Thanh, 38, former deputy head of International Payment Department, Agribank's South Ha Noi Branch
7. Truong Thi Ut, 48, former head of Business Credit Department, Agribank's South Ha Noi Branch
8. Dang Quang Trung, 38, former deputy head of Credit Department, Agribank's South Ha Noi Branch
9. Hoang Anh Tuan, 53, former member of Agribank's board of directors
10. Le Minh Hieu, 41, former director of Vietmad JSC and Lifepro Viet Nam JSC
11. Kieu Trong Tuyen, 62, former deputy director general of Agribank;
12. Do Quang Vinh, 51, former head of Agribank's Business Credit Department
13. Phan Quy Duong, 37, former staff of Agribank's Business Credit Department
14. Hoang Thi Thu Hien, 52, former head of Credit Department, Agribank's South Ha Noi Branch
15. Luong Thi Yen, 57, former deputy head of the (then) Ha Tay Customs Department
16. Hoang Tuan Khanh, 42, former staff of the (then) Ha Tay Customs Department
17. Do Thi Lien Huong, 38, former staff at the (then) Ha Tay Customs Department
18. Nguyen Thi Thuy Hang, 37, former staff at the (then) Ha Tay Customs Department. — VNS