|Huỳnh Thị Huyền Như, former deputy chief of the Risk Management Department at VietinBank’s HCM City branch. — VNA/VNS Photo Thành Chung|
HCM CITY — The People’s Court of HCM City on May 28 opened a new trial in the case of Huỳnh Thị Huyền Như, former deputy chief of the Risk Management Department at VietinBank’s HCM City branch, and Võ Anh Tuấn, deputy director of VietinBank’s Nhà Bè branch, on charges of "swindling to appropriate assets" worth VNĐ1.085 trillion (US$51 million) from five companies
The court reopened the case after receiving letters of appeal from four of the five affected companies.
In February, the People’s Court of HCM City upheld a life sentence given two years ago to Huyền Như and a seven-year jail sentence for Võ Anh Tuấn on charges of swindling customers out of nearly VNĐ1.085 trillion.
Như was asked to compensate the five affected companies, which included ORS Securities, SaigonBank - Berjara, Global Insurance Corporation, An Lộc, and Hưng Yên, for all of their losses.
Four companies, excluding Hưng Yên, sent appeal letters to the court to object to the decision.
They said that VietinBank had loosened its management and had allowed Huyền Như and Võ Anh Tuấn to swindle customers, and that VietinBank must be responsible to pay the money to them.
At the February trial, representatives of the five companies asked the judicial council to force Vietinbank to pay compensation for both the original loans and accrued interest on loans taken out by Huyền Như.
They said 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, saying in court: "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,” Vietinbank representatives said.
Vietinbank said the five companies’claims 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) at high interest rates from banks, organisations and individuals 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, the court said.
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 forged documents of agencies and organisations related to the VNĐ1.085 trillion ($51 million) deposited in VietinBank by the five companies, the court said.
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 seized many properties owned by Như, but their total value added up to only VNĐ230 billion ($10.85 million).
Võ Anh Tuấn brought Như to Hà Nội and helped Như mobilise money from the Hưng Yên company.
Tuấn knew about Như’s swindling but agreed that Như could create counterfeit deposit contracts between VietinBank’s Nhà Bè branch and Hưng Yên company.
Tuấn benefited by receiving VNĐ10 billion ($450,000) from the activity. He has asked the court to reduce his seven-year jail sentence. — VNS