Jailed senior banker faces another criminal probe

By Quoc Thang   August 19, 2019 | 05:50 am PT
Jailed senior banker faces another criminal probe
Hua Thi Phan is summoned to the court during the trial of VNCB former chairman Pham Cong Danh in July 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Quoc Thang.
A former Vietnamese bank executive serving a 30-year jail term for embezzlement will be investigated for appropriating property.

The Criminal Police Department under the Ministry of Public Security has recommended that Hua Thi Phan, 72, is investigated for further charges of "abuse of trust to appropriate property" at the Vietnam Construction Bank, formerly known as TrustBank, for whom she was a senior board advisor.

Phan is suspected of inflating the price of many real estate projects that her companies owned and selling them to TrustBank where she abused her power as the majority shareholder (holding roughly 85 percent of the bank’s charter capital) to misappropriate VND1.3 trillion ($56 million), investigators said.

Phan's misappropriation and other violations turned the Vietnam Construction Bank in 2011-2012 into "a weak bank" as categorized by the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV). The SBV later acquired the bank for zero dong as a bailout.

The latest move is part of an expanding investigation into the massive banking fraud case at TrustBank, whose former chairman Trinh Cong Danh has also been sentenced to 30 years in prison, the maximum allowed by Vietnam's Penal Code for illegal withdrawals.

Phan was given her 30-year prison term last year for embezzlement and has been ordered to pay more than VND16.7 trillion ($719 million) in damages caused to TrustBank.

Vietnam has arrested and tried several bankers over financial irregularities in recent years as it seeks to restructure a banking system still reeling from nonperforming loans, mismanagement and under-regulated lending.

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