Real estate tycoon Truong My Lan moved to HCMC prison ahead of trial

By Hai Duyen   February 21, 2024 | 11:48 pm PT
Real estate tycoon Truong My Lan moved to HCMC prison ahead of trial
Van Thinh Phat chairwoman Truong My Lan. Photo courtesy of Van Thinh Phat
Property developer Van Thinh Phat chairwoman Truong My Lan and eight leaders of SCB lender have been moved from northern prisons to Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday to prepare for the upcoming trial.

They are now held captive at T17 Prison in Cu Chi District for the trial on March 5.

Of 86 people that will be on trial, 70 are in prison, 11 are allowed to be at home while five are in hiding.

Lan has been charged with bribery, violating bank regulations and embezzlement.

Eighty-five other people have been charged with similar crimes, along with "abuse of power and position while performing official duties" and "lack of responsibility causing serious consequences."

The accused include 45 former leaders of Saigon Commercial Bank (SCB), 15 former State Bank of Vietnam officers, three Government Inspectorate officers, one former officer from the State Audit Office.

The court is calling for the five people in hiding to hand themselves in.

The trial is set to last until April 29. The People’s Court of HCMC has summoned 2,400 people connected to the case.

Officials have been preparing for the trial over the last two months. Nearly 200 lawyers will participate in the court, including five who will defend Lan.

According to prosecutors, in 2011 Lan acquired three private banks to merge into SCB, which she used as though it were her own private bank in order to finance what was actually her own company – property developer Van Thinh Phat and its ecosystem.

Although Lan did not hold direct executive power at SCB, she owned 91.5% of the lender’s shares through other individuals.

She directed SCB leaders to coordinate with key officials at Van Thinh Phat to withdraw the bank's money via fake loan applications.

Over a period of many years, Lan instructed her accomplices time and time again to disburse the money first and complete the paperwork later.

From 2012 to 2022, Lan's inner circle took more than 2,500 loans at SCB, with a total disbursement of more than VND1 quadrillion ($44 billion), accounting for 93% of the lender’s total issued credit.

The remaining 7% was lent to regular customers.

The sum is equal to 10.7% of Vietnam’s GDP in 2022, which totaled $409 billion. As of 2022, Lan was responsible for 1,300 outstanding unpaid loans at the bank, which were worth a total of VND677 trillion. The loans were categorized as "unable to collect."

Lan directed SCB officials to disburse the loans to her companies, and she then withdrew them in cash to prevent their origins from being traced.

Between February 2018 and October 2022, she made 916 loan applications at the bank for a total VND545 trillion and appropriated VND304 trillion she was granted for herself.

The loans carry a combined unpaid interest of VND130 trillion.

Lan’s activities caused losses of VND64.6 trillion to the bank, prosecutors said, and they have also accused her of paying bribes to conceal the bank’s financial situation.

She allegedly paid the head of the central bank’s department of inspection and supervision, Do Thi Nhan, $5.2 million in bribes.

Lan had denied all accusations of violations at SCB.

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