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Life sentence upheld for banker who embezzled $51m

Update: February, 10/2018 - 09:59
The Supreme People’s Procuracy yesterday upheld the life sentence given two years ago to Huỳnh Thị Huyền Như, former deputy chief of the Risk Management Department of the HCM City branch of VietinBank, for swindling customers out of nearly VNĐ1.085 trillion (US$51 million). — VNA/VNS Photo Hoàng Hải

HCM CITY — The Supreme People’s Procuracy yesterday upheld the life sentence given two years ago to Huỳnh Thị Huyền Như, former deputy chief of the Risk Management Department of the HCM City branch of VietinBank, for swindling customers out of nearly VNĐ1.085 trillion (US$51 million).

The five companies affected include ORS Securities, SaigonBank - Berjara, Global Insurance Corporation, An Lộc, and Hưng Yên.

The Procuracy said the charge of "swindling to appropriate assets", and not the proposed “assets embezzlement” charges, was correct.

Như was asked to compensate the five companies for all of their losses.

The court also accused Võ Anh Tuấn, deputy director of VietinBank’s Nhà Bè branch, of "swindling to appropriate assets" and suggested a prison sentence of 12-14 years.

According to the Procuracy, Như and Tuấn’s behavior was particularly dangerous for society because it violated the assets of many units, including those owned by the state.

"The behavior of the defendants also violated the order of economic management, which partly affected State management agencies and the banking sector, causing a public loss of confidence in the banking systems," the representative said.

At the trial, representatives of the five companies asked the judicial council to force Vietinbank to pay compensation for both the original loans and accrued interest taken out by Huyền Như because the account was actually at Vietinbank.

ORS Securities claimed over VNĐ900 billion ($42.5 million) in losses, Saigonbank Berjara Securities (SBBS) VNĐ220 billion ($10.3 million), Global Insurance company VNĐ149 billion ($7 million), An Lộc company VNĐ400 billion ($18.9 million), and Hưng Yên company VNĐ400 billion ($18.9 million).

A representative of Vietinbank rejected the charge and said at the trial: "All policies and activities of the bank are not contrary to law and not contrary to the regulations of the State Bank of Việt Nam."

According to representatives of Vietinbank, the five companies “were seduced by Huyền Như, and did not comply with the law, signing a false contract to rent out their accounts”.

The companies’ actions “derived from their greed and personal interests of the broker”, the Vietinbank representatives said.

Vietinbank said the claims of the five companies about the bank should be rejected.

According to an earlier verdict, in 2007 Như used her position at the bank to raise over VNĐ200 billion ($9.43 million) from banks, organisations, and individuals at high interest rates to invest in the property market.

In 2010, when the market collapsed, she was unable to pay her debts.

Then, to repay loans, in 2008 she began borrowing from a loan shark at interest rates of 0.5-0.6 per cent per day. Two years later, Như turned to swindling.

Between March 2010 and September 2011, on the pretext of mobilising deposits, Như took VNĐ3.9 trillion ($176 million) from three individuals, nine companies and three banks by paying interest rates higher than those offered by other banks.

She counterfeited seals and documents of agencies and organisations related to the VNĐ1.085 trillion ($51 million) deposited in VietinBank by the five companies.

She stole VNĐ718 billion ($32.5 million) from Asia Commercial Joint Stock Bank, VNĐ200 billion from the Nam Việt Commercial Joint Stock Bank ($9.43 million), and VNĐ180 billion ($8.5 million) from Việt Nam International Bank, according to the court.

Law enforcement authorities discovered and seized many properties owned by Như, but their total value only added up to VNĐ230 billion ($10.85 million).

Võ Anh Tuấn brought Như to Hà Nội and helped Như mobilise money from Hưng Yên company.

Tuấn knew about Như’s swindling, but agreed that Như could counterfeit deposit contracts between VietinBank’s Nhà Bè branch and Hưng Yên company.

Tuấn benefited by receiving VNĐ10 billion ($450,000) from the activity.

The court trial is scheduled to end on February 12. — VNS

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