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Trial of seven fishery, bank officials accused of $44m in fraud begins

Update: June, 07/2017 - 09:00
Seven defendants are on trial for fraud in a case being heard before the Cà Mau Court. — Photo
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — The Cà Mau Provincial People’s Court on Monday began the trial of seven people in the fisheries and banking sector for allegedly defrauding the government of more than VNĐ1 trillion (US$44 million).

The seven defendants have been charged with “property misappropriation”.

Between 2009 and 2011, the seven defendants took advantage of the government’s preferential lending policy, made false records for the purpose of borrowing export loans at the Việt Nam Development Bank’s (VDB) Minh Hải Branch and other commercial banks, and then used the money for personal purposes, leading to insolvency, according to the court.

Although a lawyer provided an application for absence due to health reasons and asked for suspension of the case against defendant Đặng Thị Ngợi, former director of the Ngọc Sinh Fishery Import and Processing Enterprise, the jury did not accept it because the application was not certified by a hospital.

Several other people with obligations were also absent from the trial.

The seven defendants include Đặng Thị Ngợi, former director of Ngọc Sinh Fishery Import and Processing Enterprise; Nguyễn Tấn Hải, former chairman of the Board Member cum General Director of Việt Hải Processing and Import-Export Company Limited; Phan Xuân Minh, former director of Minh Châu Aquatic Product Processing Import-Export Company; Phan Xuân Nhự, former deputy director of Minh Châu Import Export Processing Company Limited and former Chief Accountant of Ngọc Châu Company; Nguyễn Hữu Thanh, former general director of Đại Dương Food Joint Stock Company; Võ Kiều Oanh, former director of Nam Thành Import Export Co., Ltd; and Huỳnh Minh Trung, of Nhật Đức Co.

The defendants also include former leaders of the bank VDB Minh Hải, including former director Trịnh Tuấn Mẫn; Vũ Văn Hoan, former deputy director; and Phan Thanh Bình, former deputy director.

The former officials were charged with “breaching regulations on loan provisions in the operations of credit institutions,” under Article 179 of the Penal Code, according to the jury.

According to the case file, from 2009-2011, the former officials violated regulations on lending when they granted soft loans to many seafood processors and exporters in Cà Mau and Bạc Liêu provinces.

Such preferential loans were aimed at helping seafood businesses expand production, processing and export activities. 

However, the former bankers did not examine the loan applications and supervise the use of the loans by these enterprises, leading to a situation in which the lending was used for the wrong purposes, causing great losses.

From June 18, 2010 to January 24, 2011, the former officials approved 11 preferential loans of more than VNĐ100 billion ($4.72 million) to Minh Châu Seafood Processing, Import and Export Co Ltd.

It was not until the company became insolvent that the branch examined its loan files and discovered all the company’s mortgages were valued at about VNĐ20 billion ($943,000), much less than the company’s debt to the bank.

Similarly, the defendants conducted procedures to provide 18 loans with a total amount of nearly VNĐ300 billion ($14.15 million) to Ngọc Sinh Seafood Trading, Processing and Export Enterprise from July to September 2009.

After that, the defendants continued to approve two loans worth VNĐ12 billion ($566,000) in June 2010, although knowing that the company was insolvent.

When the total debt of Ngoc Sinh dropped to VNĐ130 billion ($6.13 million), the branch checked the company’s mortgaged property and found they were valued at only VNĐ90 billion ($4.2 million). — VNS

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