Victims demand urgent resolution of billion-dollar Vạn Thịnh Phát bond fraud

June 10, 2024 - 17:22
Victims of the billion-dollar Vạn Thịnh Phát bond fraud case are urging authorities to expedite the investigation since they face financial ruin.
Trương Mỹ Lan, former Chairwoman of Vạn Thịnh Phát Group, at a recent trial in HCM City. The chairwoman has been sentenced to death for multiple financial fraud. — VNA/VNS Photo

HCM CITY — Victims of the billion-dollar Vạn Thịnh Phát bond fraud case are urging authorities to expedite the investigation since they face financial ruin.

Lê Thu Thuỷ, 51, a retired official in HCM City, said she had invested over VNĐ2 billion in bonds issued by a Vạn Thịnh Phát subsidiary two years ago but has not received any interest or principal.

Thuỷ is among over 35,000 victims who were misled by the staff of Saigon Commercial Joint Stock Bank (SCB), who had reassured them the bonds were “as safe as a savings account product” due to Trương Mỹ Lan’s ownership of the bank as the chairwoman of the group.

But SCB has claimed it was only acting as an intermediary and did not guarantee repayment to investors.

Experts said the bank could well be held responsible for “failing to disclose the risks associated with the bonds.”

The police said SCB faces accusations of playing a major role in the massive financial fraud suffered by its customers.

A branch of the Saigon Commercial Joint Stock Bank in HCM City’s District 3. Experts said SCB should be held accountable for the bond fraud, given a majority of the victims were its depositors. — VNS Photo Bồ Xuân Hiệp

Their investigation found that Lan had orchestrated a scheme for SCB to issue fake bonds to mitigate its financial woes.

Lan has admitted to working closely with former executives of SCB, Tân Việt Securities and Vạn Thịnh Phát to develop a “specific plan” to fabricate bonds through bogus companies set up by Vạn Thịnh Phát group.

Võ Tấn Hoàng Văn, former CEO of SCB, was found to have conducted ‘training sessions’ for over 2,500 sales staff at various branches nationwide on how to defraud customers, the police said.

Lan has admitted to her wrongdoing and promised to repay the victims, the police added.

The victims are demanding a swift resolution to recover their lost funds.

Authorities have said the police have already seized millions of dollars in assets connected to Lan in a bid to repay the victims affected by the fraud.

The IFC One Saigon building on Tôn Đức Thắng Street in HCM City’s District 1 is on the list of buildings related to Vạn Thịnh Phát Group. The police have stated the money and assets recovered from the scandal will be used to indemnify victims. — VNS Photo Bồ Xuân Hiệp

The police said they have seized assets totaling over VNĐ590 billion and nearly $15 million, and frozen further millions of dollars worth of assets linked to the chairwoman.

The seized assets include 1,240 properties owned by Lan in prime locations in HCM City and various provinces, shares in SCB and other companies, a yacht, two ships, and 19 cars.

Bedsides, 42 accounts with VNĐ1.9 trillion and $8.4 million associated with Lan and others convicted have been frozen.

Proceeds of almost VNĐ790 billion linked to a company owned by Vạn Thịnh Phát Group have been blocked at SCB, with an additional VNĐ55.5 billion seized during prosecution and VNĐ73 billion paid by Lan and others during the trial.

The police said they would seize more assets linked to the scandal as part of efforts to compensate the victims.

Authorities are urging the 35,000 victims who hold bonds from the fraudulent issuances to come forward with information and related documents.

Experts said it would take years to mitigate the consequences of the scandal, one of the world’s worst financial crimes. — VNS