|Defendants at court on Friday morning. — VNA/VNS Photo Thành Chung|
HCM CITY — The People’s Court of HCM City started a trial on Friday against Hứa Thị Phấn, a former senior advisor to the board of directors of Đại Tín Bank (Trust Bank), now Việt Nam Construction Bank (VNCB), for “abusing trust to appropriate property” under article 175 of the 2015 Penal Code.
However, Phấn was reportedly absent due to illness caused by stage 3 hypertension and type 2 diabetes, meaning she was unable to walk. Two lawyers Phạm Ngọc Trung and Lại Huy Tùng represented her in the court.
Phấn, 72, also former chairwoman of Phú Mỹ Development Investment Joint Stock Company, was charged with appropriating over VNĐ1.38 trillion (US$57.8 million) from Trust Bank.
Phấn’s five accomplices consist of Bùi Thị Kim Loan, accountant of Phú Mỹ Co Ltd; Lâm Kim Dũng, former director of Lam Giang Real Estate Co Ltd; Huỳnh Thị Xuân Dung, former director of Phúc Nguyễn Real Estate Investment Co Ltd; Lâm Hứa Quỳnh Trinh, former deputy head of Treasury Office of Trust Bank in HCM City; and Phạm Hồng Hảo, a member of staff at Trust Bank, were also charged with “abusing trust to appropriate property”.
Many others, including Phạm Công Danh, Phan Thành Mai, Hoàng Văn Toàn and Trần Sơn Nam, were also summoned to court.
A representative of VNCB attended as a civil plaintiff. The State Bank of Việt Nam's representative attended as a legal entity with related rights and obligations.
According to the indictment of the Supreme People’s Procuracy, in 2007, Phấn had taken advantage of holding 84.92 per cent of Trust Bank’s charter capital and being the biggest shareholder of the bank in order to direct the bank’s board of directors and staff to invest VNĐ1.03 trillion ($44.8 million) in four real estate projects in which three companies of Phấn were investors. The three companies include Phú Mỹ Development Investment Joint Stock Company, Lam Giang Real Estate Co Ltd and Phú Mỹ Co Ltd.
However, Phấn did not use the money to invest in the projects following the contracts. She used all the money for private purposes and then denied all responsibility to pay back the Trust Bank.
Additionally, Phấn also ordered her staff to buy four properties in districts 1, 3 and 10 in HCM City and another in Nha Trang City, Khánh Hòa Province. She directed the Trust Bank’s board of directors to re-buy the properties at much higher prices. As a result, Phấn appropriated about VNĐ437 billion ($18.9 million) from Trust Bank.
Previously, in the first phase of the case, the court sentenced Phấn to 30 years in prison for “deliberately violating State regulations on economic management, causing severe consequences” and “abusing trust to appropriate property” in May 2018. The Trust Bank was determined to suffer a loss of over VNĐ6.3 trillion ($272 million) in the first phase of the case.
According to the schedule, the trial will continue until November 25. — VNS