|Trương Mỹ Lan, a prominent Chinese-Vietnamese billionaire in Việt Nam’s business community, faces prosecution on charges including bribery, embezzlement, and violations of banking regulations. — Photo courtesy of the Security Public Ministry|
HCM CITY — The chairwoman of Vạn Thịnh Phát Group is facing accusations of orchestrating the activities of Saigon Joint Stock Commercial Bank (SCB) to embezzle VNĐ304 trillion (US$12.4 billion).
According to the Investigation Police Department for Corruption, Smuggling, and Economic Crimes (CO3) under the Public Security Ministry, Trương Mỹ Lan, 66, was recommended for prosecution on three charges: bribery, embezzlement, and violations of regulations on banking and related activities.
In addition, 85 other individuals are also facing charges related to embezzlement, violation of banking regulations, bribery, abuse of power, negligence causing serious consequences, and misappropriation of property.
According to the investigation’s conclusion, SCB Bank is a joint stock company operating under Business Law and a credit institution operating under the Law on Credit Institutions.
Although Lan does not hold any positions at SCB, she has control over the bank as she has held a controlling stake (from 85 to 91.5 per cent) since a merger in 2012.
The C03 stated that with her controlling shares, and with close relatives of hers appointed to key leadership positions at SCB (Board of Directors, Executive Board), all activities of the bank “basically serve” Lan’s purposes.
She is accused of utilising SCB to raise capital, then directing individuals at SCB and Vạn Thịnh Phát Group to take out loans to withdraw money, resulting in embezzling a significant amount of VNĐ304 trillion from the bank.
|The Saigon Joint Stock Commercial Bank (SCB) headquarters in HCM City. — VNS Photo Bồ Xuân Hiệp|
Last October, Trương Mỹ Lan and other individuals were arrested for alleged fraud related to the issuance and trading of bonds worth VNĐ30.1 trillion ($1.22 billion). Most of the buyers of the bond packages purchased the bonds at SCB.
Following Lan’s arrest, numerous depositors rushed to the bank to withdraw their money, leading to SCB being placed under “special control” by the central bank.
Other individuals who were also arrested included Trương Huệ Vân, CEO of Windsor Property Management, Nguyễn Phương Hồng, an assistant at Vạn Thịnh Phát, and Hồ Bửu Phương, former chairwoman of Tân Việt Securities and Vạn Thịnh Phát former deputy financial director.
On March 28, the C03 arrested Đỗ Thị Nhàn, former director of Supervision Department II at the central bank, and four members of an inspection team under the central bank for abusing their power while performing their duties.
Earlier, the Public Security Ministry announced seven executives of SCB were currently wanted for their involvement in the fraud case of Vạn Thịnh Phát Group.
They are former chairs of the SCB Board of Directors, Nguyễn Thị Thu Sương and Đinh Văn Thành, former SCB deputy general director Chiêm Minh Dũng, former members of the SCB Board of Directors Trầm Thích Tồn, Sun Henry Ka Ziang, and Lam Lee George, and deputy director of SCB Bến Thành Branch Nguyễn Lâm Anh Vũ.
Their current whereabouts remain unknown.
Trương Mỹ Lan is known as a prominent Chinese-Vietnamese billionaire in Việt Nam's business community.
Her company, Vạn Thịnh Phát Co., Ltd., operates in commerce, hospitality, and real estate and owns major projects and buildings in prime locations in HCM City.
In relation to Việt Nam’s GDP at the end of the third quarter of this year (VNĐ4.7 quadrillion), the amount that the chairwoman is accused of misappropriating is equivalent to 6 per cent of the country’s GDP. — VNS
|Formerly known as Saigon One Tower, the IFC One Saigon in 2021 was acquired by Viva Land, a subsidiary of Vạn Thịnh Phát Group. Construction was briefly resumed after years of delay but was halted again following the arrest of Trương Mỹ Lan in October of last year. — VNS Photo Bồ Xuân Hiệp|