Former Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Ocean Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Ocean Bank) Hà Văn Thắm (centre) at the Hà Nội People’s Court yesterday.– Photo vnexpress.net
HÀ NỘI – The Hà Nội People’s Court yesterday sent the Ocean Bank case back to the nation’s main prosecuting agency, the People’s Supreme Procuracy, for further investigation and reframing of charges.
In one of the biggest economic crime cases in Việt Nam, former Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Ocean Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Ocean Bank) Hà Văn Thắm and 47 other former leaders and employees of the bank are being tried for charges including breaching loan regulations of credit institutions, abusing positions and power while on duty and intentionally acting against State laws on economic management, causing serious consequences.
The panel of judges said the decision to hand back the case after an eight-day hearing was taken to clarify some of the defendant’s statements and to carry out further investigation into some aspects of the case.
For instance, the bank’s former director general Nguyễn Xuân Sơn has been charged with intentionally acting against State laws on economic management, causing serious consequences. However, the judges said this was incorrect and ordered further investigations to make appropriate charges in line with the nation’s laws.
According to the judges, Sơn, who was the bank’s director general and representative of the capital contributed to the bank by the Việt Nam Oil and Gas Group (PVN), had worked with Thắm to decide to illegally pay interest rates outside deposit contracts to customers. Although Sơn was moved to work as leader of PVN from May 11, 2011, he still directed former director general of the bank Nguyễn Thị Minh Thu to continue paying the extra interest.
Abusing his prestige, position and the dependence of Ocean Bank on PVN, Sơn withdrew more than VNĐ246 billion from Oceanbank. His actions reflect an abuse of power, guiding illegal activities to appropriate such a huge some of money from Ocean Bank, the judges said, adding that further investigation was needed to precisely identify his violations.
Regarding the loss of nearly VNĐ800 billion of PVN, the judges said it was necessary to make clear responsibility of Sơn and related people in investing, contributing capital, managing and using this money.
The judges also said some documents in the files presented at the court did not match the statements of 34 defendants, former directors of the bank’s branches or transaction offices, about the payment of interest above deposit contracts for customers. Therefore, more investigation was needed to have an adequate legal basis to charge the defendants.
According to the prosecution, the Ocean Bank staff committed extremely serious violations in lending, mobilising deposits, and paying customers higher interest rates than the ceiling regulated by the central bank, causing heavy losses for the bank and its shareholders, and hindering the implementation of State monetary policy.
The indictment also stated that while holding the highest position at Ocean Bank, Thắm personally directed the Ocean Bank Board of Directors to approve a loan to Phạm Công Danh, former Managing Board Chairman of the Construction Bank.
The loan was approved without meeting loan conditions and without collateral assets, causing losses of nearly VNĐ350 billion ($15.5 million).
Other defendants in the case include former director general Nguyễn Xuân Sơn and Nguyễn Thị Minh Thu, former deputy director general Nguyễn Văn Hoàn and Lê Thị Thu Thủy, and former directors of Ocean Bank branches and transaction offices.
Thắm, 43, was arrested in October 2014.
Under Thắm’s direction, Ocean Bank’s bad debts climbed to nearly VNĐ15 trillion ($666 million), with pre-tax losses reaching more than VNĐ10 trillion as of March 2014.
The Ocean Bank case is one of the six biggest economic crimes that the Central Anti-Corruption Steering Committee was asked to bring to trial by the first quarter of 2017.
The State Bank nationalised the Ocean Bank in May, 2016. – VNS