Annul Vietnam coffee royalty divorce verdict, prosecutors urge

By Hai Duyen   April 13, 2019 | 05:39 am PT
Annul Vietnam coffee royalty divorce verdict, prosecutors urge
Le Hoang Diep Thao (L) and Dang Le Nguyen Vu (R). Photos by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen
Citing illegalities, the HCMC People’s Procuracy says the recent verdict in Vietnam’s coffee royalty divorce case should be quashed.

The agency said the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court has made several errors in deciding the lawsuit between Dang Le Nguyen Vu, chairman and CEO of coffee giant Trung Nguyen Group, and his ex-wife Le Hoang Diep Thao. 

It urged the appeals court to reject the verdict issued at the trial of first instance last month.

The original value of the shared cash between Vu and Thao kept in three banks under Thao’s name was mentioned at VND1.76 trillion ($75.9 million). However, at the time the court issued its verdict, the sum was only VND1.3 billion ($56,080), or 0.07 percent of the original value.

The court did not verify where most of the money went and used for what purpose, prosecutors said, adding that the lack of information on the cash makes the enforcement of the verdict challenging.

They also noted that the court has given an "unfair" verdict by dividing the ownership of Vu and Thao in Trung Nguyen 60:40 ratio in Vu’s favor and ordering that Vu buys out Thao’s shares with cash so as the latter will no longer be a Trung Nguyen shareholder.

Allowing Vu to own Thao’s shares is a violation of Vietnam’s Law on Enterprises as Thao is a shareholder and has rights over her shares, prosecutors said, adding that value of the shares which includes brand value is yet to be defined.

Prosecutors also claimed that the court’s verdict on the provision for four children, ordering Vu to provide them with VND10 billion ($431,140) a year starting from 2013 until they graduate from college, did not meet the two sides’ agreement, making the enforcement of the verdict difficult.

Following the court’s verdict last month, deemed "not in line with the law" by lawyers, both Thao and Vu have appealed.

Thao has appealed against the entire verdict, asking to be reunited with Vu. She has also disagreed with the court's decision to split the couple's shared assets in Trung Nguyen 60:40 in Vu's favor and to give him the rights to manage the Trung Nguyen empire.

Vu, meanwhile, has appealed against the court's ruling on the settlement of the couple's shared assets and repeated his demand for the split to be 70:30 in his favor.

Vu and Thao married in 1998. The marriage ran into trouble in 2013 and Thao filed for divorce in 2015.

Thao had previously proposed that she gets 51 percent (VND2.11 trillion or $90.7 million) of Trung Nguyen Investment, a company which owns the majority of shares of Trung Nguyen Group.

She had also proposed that Vu and her each own 15 percent (VND814 billion, $35 million) of Trung Nguyen Group and 7.5 percent (VND43 billion, $1.85 million) of Trung Nguyen Instant Coffee. Thao agreed to give Vu her shares in four other companies under the Trung Nguyen brand.

But Vu wanted to have 70 percent of all of companies under the Trung Nguyen brand and to buy the remaining shares from Thao with cash.

Trung Nguyen Group is a leading coffee company in Vietnam. It earned revenues of VND3.95 trillion ($170.5 million) and pretax profits of VND681 billion ($29.4 million) in 2017. It runs 200,000 coffee stores across the country.

go to top