SCB execs claim they quit after carrying out Truong My Lan's illegal orders

By Hai Duyen, Quoc Thang   March 7, 2024 | 11:01 pm PT
SCB execs claim they quit after carrying out Truong My Lan's illegal orders
Truong My Lan (second from L) sit next to the police at the People's Court of Ho Chi Minh City on March 7, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
A former acting CEO of Saigon Commercial Bank and other executives said they quit due to the pressure caused by following illegal orders given by Van Thinh Phat chairwoman Truong My Lan.

Hoang Minh Hoan admitted to the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court Thursday that he approved 51 loans to Lan and her accomplices’ companies, causing a loss of VND2.45 trillion (US$99 million) to the bank.

But he committed the crimes for only two months while working as acting CEO, and not over two years as charged by the prosecution, he claimed.

Many loans had been approved by his predecessor long before they were presented to him for signing, and he only found out they were illegal loans after speaking to the police.

He said he quit after two months of being the acting CEO because there were "uncertainties" in the work.

"I only received my salary as contracted and not any bonus from Lan."

Former CEO and director Le Khanh Hien also admitted to approving 72 loans causing a loss of VND3.87 trillion to SCB.

He said he did so in the hope that when the collateral for the loans were sold the bank would be able to restructure.

Presiding judge Pham Luong Toan admonished him saying he was using the restructuring as an excuse for his crimes, and that he and the other defendants in fact subverted the restructuring.

Hien said he did not want the bank to collapse since a merger of three lenders was unprecedented in Vietnam.

"My motive was to help the bank recover quickly."

But after working for a year he realized that many of the decisions made by the board of directors were against the law and would result in severe consequences.

Lan was the mastermind behind the scam and had total control over the board, according to the prosecution.

Hien said he even proposed solutions to fix the frauds but were rejected by the board. He then decided to quit.

Tran Thuan Hoa, a former SCB director, said she quit after five months on seeing debts mount at the bank.

She admitted to approving 71 loans causing a loss of VND2.37 trillion.

Other former executives also said they quit after a short period since they knew they had been carrying out illegal orders.

They pleaded guilty to the charges and were willing to hand in their ill-gotten earnings.

All the company bosses who borrowed money from SCB ostensibly on Lan’s orders admitted to doing so.

After three days of the trial the judges had heard the testimonies of 56 out of 86 defendants.

They have allowed Lan’s daughter, Chu Duyet Phan, to collect debts owed to Lan and hand in the money to the court.

At the two-month trial Lan faces charges of bribery, violating bank regulations and embezzlement.

She owned a 91.5% stake in the bank, but in the names of other people and entities.

Between 2012 and 2022 SCB gave Lan over 2,500 loans worth over VND1 quadrillion ($44 billion), equivalent to 93% of its entire loan portfolio.

In all, she is accused of causing losses of VND498 trillion to the lender.

As of 2022 Lan’s network had nearly 1,300 loans worth a total of VND677 trillion, all unrecoverable.

Eighty five others are being tried for embezzlement, bribery, abuse of power while performing official duties, lack of responsibility causing serious consequences, and violating bank regulations.

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