Four years on, Ocean Group unable to recover from chairman’s imprisonment

By Minh Son   November 5, 2018 | 11:30 pm PT
Four years on, Ocean Group unable to recover from chairman’s imprisonment
Ocean Group has been in financial crisis after its chairman Ha Van Tham was arrested. Photo by VnExpress
Ocean Group has suffered accumulated losses of $124 million since chairman Ha Van Tham was jailed in 2014 in one of Vietnam’s biggest trials.

The company, which has interests in real estate, banking, securities, retail, media and hotels, was profitable until 2013.

But it suffered losses of more than VND2.2 trillion ($94.3 million) in 2014 and now, four years later, its accumulated losses have risen to VND2.9 trillion ($124 million).

Ha Van Tham, Ocean Group’s disgraced former chairman and Ha Bao, a private firm he owned, the two biggest shareholders of Ocean with more than 72 million shares, or a 24 percent stake, saw their shares seized by the local civil judgment enforcement agency in August.

Tham, 47, has been sentenced to life imprisonment for “deliberately violating State regulations on economic management causing severe consequences”, “breaching lending regulations of credit institutions”, “property embezzlement”, and “abusing positions and power to appropriate assets” in one of the biggest bank fraud cases ever brought to court in Vietnam.

As chairman of Ocean Group, the parent of Ocean Bank, Tham and his accomplices committed many violations of credit regulations causing losses to the bank and even affecting monetary policy, according to indictment at the court.

The losses were worth nearly VND2 trillion (equivalent to $87.7 million at current exchange rates).

The U.S.-educated banker, who was Vietnam's eighth richest man in 2013 based on stock holdings, had won several awards for outstanding entrepreneurship before his arrest in October 2014.

Ocean Bank was founded in 1993 with Ocean Group holding a 20 percent stake.

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