'I will accept any judgment,' beverage tycoon Tran Qui Thanh says at $41M fraud trial

By Hai Duyen   April 23, 2024 | 06:13 pm PT
'I will accept any judgment,' beverage tycoon Tran Qui Thanh says at $41M fraud trial
Tran Qui Thanh, chairman of beverage manufacturer Tan Hiep Phat, at the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court on April 23, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Tung
Tran Qui Thanh, chairman of leading beverage company Tan Hiep Phat, has changed his testimony and pleaded guilty at his trial, saying he would unquestioningly accept the court’s verdict.

Thanh, 71, Tran Uyen Phuong, 43, who is also deputy CEO of Tan Hiep Phat, and Tran Ngoc Bich, 40, stood trial on Tuesday for "abuse of trust to appropriate assets" worth VND1.048 trillion (US$41.2 million).

When asked by the court if he pleaded guilty to the prosecutors’ charges, Thanh initially demurred, saying he needed some documents to answer the question as he was old, infirm and visually impaired.

Asked for a second time, he said it was "difficult to answer."

The court then asked him for a straightforward answer, and Thanh said he "accepted the prosecution’s charges but needed clarifications on some details," claiming he had not committed all the wrongdoing they accused him of.

According to the prosecution, Thanh and his daughters gave loans against collateral to many people at an interest rate of 3% per month between January 2019 and November 2020.

But instead of loan contracts, they allegedly coerced them into signing sale contracts at prices significantly lower than the actual value of the collateral.

Even when the borrowers paid back the money with interest, Thanh would refuse to give back the assets on various pretexts, including claiming they had forfeited their repurchase rights due to contract breaches.

The trio allegedly swindled two property projects and 35 land lots worth a total of VND1.048 trillion from four individuals in this manner.

They had denied the accusations during the investigation, claiming they had been sales and not loan transactions.

However, after the prosecution clearly pointed out their fraudulent conduct, Thanh changed his testimony. "I recognize that my actions were wrong," he said.

Thanh's daughter Phuong also admitted to the charges laid by the prosecution.

The trial is scheduled to run until April 25.

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