How a CEO acted as deliveryman for Truong My Lan’s $5.2M bribes

By Hai Duyen, Quoc Thang   March 7, 2024 | 05:32 am PT
How a CEO acted as deliveryman for Truong My Lan’s $5.2M bribes
Former SCB CEO Vo Tan Hoang Van seen at the People's Court of HCMC on March 5, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Hung
Vo Tan Hoang Van, the CEO of Saigon Commercial Bank and an alleged accomplice of Truong My Lan, delivered US$5.2 million in bribes to the central bank chief inspector.

Van, 51, is on trial along with the Van Thinh Phat chairwoman and 84 others for violations at SCB. He faces charges of violating bank regulations and embezzlement.

Van became CEO in 2013. By 2017 he had granted 638 loans VND192 trillion ($7.77 billion) to Lan causing the bank a loss of VND161 trillion.

To cover their wrongdoing, Van and SCB chairman Dinh Van Thanh in July 2017 informed Lan that the bank would soon be inspected by the State Bank of Vietnam.

Van and Thanh found a way to connect with the Do Thi Nhan, head of the central bank’s department of inspection and supervision.

They set up two meetings between Lan and Nhan in Hanoi, the first at the headquarters of the central bank and the second at Daewoo Hotel.

At the meeting Lan asked Nhan to overlook the violations committed at SCB so that it could operate normally and attract investments from Japanese and Singaporean investors.

At their third meeting at Sherwood 127 Pasteur in HCMC in October 2017, Nhan informed Lan about the violations her inspectors had found at SCB and told her to sell assets to repay the loans her various companies had obtained from it.

Lan then told Van to meet Nhan in Hanoi and bribe her to buy her silence.

$5 million in styrofoam boxes

On Lan’s orders, Van and his driver took cash on three occasions in styrofoam boxes that looked like fruit containers and handed it over to Nhan at her office and house.

In all, they paid her bribes of $5.2 million.

The money had been transferred from an SCB office in HCMC to Hanoi and exchanged into dollars.

Van also paid bribes to other members of the inspection team, including $390,000 to Nguyen Van Hung, deputy head of the inspection department.

Van, however, is not charged with bribery since he turned whistleblower, informing the police about Nhan receiving bribes and cooperating with them in the investigation.

The police said after receiving the bribe Nhan filed false reports to conceal the SCB violations from the central bank and the government.

But during the investigation she handed over the money she took and helped the police with the case.

Lan is on trial for bribery, violating bank regulations and embezzlement after allegedly misappropriating VND304 trillion from SCB.

She used SCB money to fund Van Thinh Phat’s operations. She owned 91.5% of the bank in various people’s names.

Between 2012 and 2022 SCB gave Lan over 2,500 loans worth over VND1 quadrillion, equivalent to 93% of its entire credit portfolio.

She is accused of causing losses of VND498 trillion to the bank.

The 85 others are charged with embezzlement, bribery, abuse of power while performing official duties, lack of responsibility causing serious consequences, and violating bank regulations.

Of them, 45 are SCB executives, 15 are State Bank of Vietnam officials, three are from the Government Inspectorate, and one is a former official at the State Audit Office.

The trial at the People’s Court of HCMC began Thursday and is scheduled to go on until April 29.

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