Court suspends coffee royalty divorce

By Hai Duyen, Quoc Thang   March 1, 2019 | 02:17 am PT
Court suspends coffee royalty divorce
Dang Le Nguyen Vu, founder and chairman of the coffee giant Trung Nguyen. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen
A HCMC court Friday suspended the divorce of Vietnam’s coffee King and Queen pending evaluation of their assets.

Dang Le Nguyen Vu, founder and chairman of the coffee giant Trung Nguyen, and his estranged wife Le Hoang Diep Thao, have been engaged in a prolonged divorce case as well as a battle over the assets of the company, her position in it as well as the divorce settlement.

The court said it needed more evidence on Vu’s lawyer’s statement about shared assets of over VND2.1 trillion ($90.6 million) kept in three banks.

Vu’s lawyer said that the assets had been verified last year. She added: "If Thao has withdrawn the money since then, only she knows."

The court will resume hearing the case on March 27.

Le Hoang Diep Thao wants the shared asset and ownership of Trung Nguyen with Dang Le Nguyen Vu be divided in a 50:50 ratio. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen

Le Hoang Diep Thao filed for divorce in 2015. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen

HCMC prosecutors on Monday proposed that the couple get divorced and divide their 13 shared properties equally.

However, the prosecutors did not give a final suggestion on how the asset of VND2.1 trillion should be divided.

For Trung Nguyen shares, Vu had previously proposed that the company’s shares held jointly with his wife be divided 70:30 in his favor, but Thao insisted on a 50:50 split because of her contributions to the company.

Vu and Thao married 1998 and have four children. They started to have conflicts in 2013, and Thao filed for divorce in 2015.

In 2006 Thao was appointed Trung Nguyen's deputy general director. She claims that under her management its charter capital had increased from VND150 billion ($6.5 million) to VND2.5 trillion ($108.7 million) and both its revenues and profits had grown tremendously.

Thao alleged that in July 2014, Vu dismissed her without the board of directors' approval. He also instructed his employees to demolish her office and block her from entering the company's headquarters, she claimed.

Last September, the court reinstated her as deputy general director, co-owner and co-founder of Trung Nguyen Group, but the very next day Vu dismissed her for a second time, accusing her of threatening his partners.

Last December, Thao accused Trung Nguyen Group of forging signatures to remove her from the Trung Nguyen Instant Coffee Corporation (Trung Nguyen IC) and replace her with her husband.

Trung Nguyen Group is Vietnam’s leading coffee firm in Vietnam. It earned revenues of VND3.95 trillion ($170.5 million) and pretax profits of VND681 billion ($29.4 million) in 2017.

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