Coffee King dismisses ex-wife’s talk of reunion as ‘trick’

By Son Nam   December 4, 2019 | 12:20 pm GMT+7

Vietnam’s so-called Coffee Queen has sought reconciliation with her estranged husband, but he wants none of it, only a settlement of their property dispute.

Dang Le Nguyen Vu, dubbed the Coffee King, and Le Hoang Diep Thao came face to face again this week in court as one of the country’s biggest ever divorces raged on over the division of the multimillion-dollar assets of the Trung Nguyen coffee empire.

Thao, after not showing up in court thrice earlier citing health reasons, came on Monday to the HCMC High People’s Court and reportedly told the judges at an in camera session that she wanted to reunite with her husband.

Le Hoang Diep Thao seen at the Ho Chi Minh City High Peoples Court on December 2, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.

Le Hoang Diep Thao seen at the Ho Chi Minh City High People's Court on December 2, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.

"My children and I have been begging the court to let the family reunite so I can take care of my husband’s health," she told reporters afterward.

Vu, 48, and Thao, 46, divorced earlier this year. After months of litigation the court pronounced in March that the stocks of Trung Nguyen Group and cash should be shared in a ratio of 60:40 by Vu and Thao.

But both appealed, asking for a bigger share, and the case reopened this week. 

Thao's desire for a reconciliation was unequivocally rejected by Vu. He said Tuesday: "I don’t want to ever mention this woman’s name. She has crossed the line and done unimaginable things."

One of them was Thao’s efforts to drag their son, who is studying in Australia, into the lawsuit, he said. "The adults were wrong, now she wants to bring the children in, that’s why I asked for an in camera hearing."

He dismissed her pleas to reconcile and take care of him as just a "trick."

While he "did not regret" living with her for 20 years, he said cracks had formed in the relationship years before he went to the mountain in 2013 to meditate, but Thao had not noticed them. 

"I’ll never ask for help even if I become sick and die." 

Dang Le Nguyen Vu seen at the Ho Chi Minh City High Peoples Court on December 2, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.

Dang Le Nguyen Vu seen at the Ho Chi Minh City High People's Court on December 2, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.

Thao said. "He left our children and me for six years to go to the mountain, and they all failed to get a father’s affection."

She said she is unable to shirk her responsibilities as a wife since she believes Vu is not sound of mind.

Thao earlier petitioned the court to get Vu’s mental health assessed, but it was rejected. She alleged on her Facebook page that a health certificate Vu obtained to prove his well-being was fake.

"What I’m most concerned about now is Vu’s health. I’ve spent my entire youth taking care of him, Trung Nguyen and his family. I don’t care about the money as people say."

The two married in 1998 and together built Trung Nguyen into one of the biggest brands in the country. But they began to have differences in 2013, and in 2015 Thao filed for divorce.

She had asked for a 51 percent (VND2.11 trillion or $90.7 million) share of Trung Nguyen Investment, which owns the majority of shares in Trung Nguyen Group, while Vu wanted 70 percent of all companies under the Trung Nguyen brand and to buy the remaining shares from her in cash.

Meanwhile, Trung Nguyen’s pre-tax profit fell 50 percent last year to VND347 billion ($15 million).

 
 
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