Truong My Lan's Hong Kong tycoon husband claims 'unintentional' crime in Van Thinh Phat scam

By Hai Duyen   March 12, 2024 | 09:07 pm PT
Truong My Lan's Hong Kong tycoon husband claims 'unintentional' crime in Van Thinh Phat scam
Eric Chu, husband of Van Thinh Phat chairwoman Truong My Lan, seen at the People's Court of Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Hong Kong property tycoon Eric Chu said he never knew that letting his wife Truong My Lan use a building as collateral would put him in the dock.

Chu, who is on trial for abetting his wife, chairwoman of property developer Van Thinh Phat, cause a loss of VND9.12 trillion ($369 million) to Saigon Commercial Bank, told the People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City Tuesday that he first signed a document in 2012 on her say-so.

It was for mortgaging the six-story Times Square building in HCMC’s District 1 as collateral for borrowing from SCB. Chu is the chairman and owned 99% of Times Square Vietnam, the company that owned the building.

In 2017 he signed for a second time, thinking it was similar to the previous time, since he wanted to help restructure SCB.

His wife did not discuss with him the use of the loans.

When his lawyer asked him why he signed without knowing Vietnamese, he said he had faith in his wife and staff, and had signed many documents before without having any trouble.

Chu said he did not understand Vietnamese laws and therefore violated them unintentionally.

At the time he never thought signing them would one day cause him to stand trial.

He said he wanted to help recompense for the bank’s losses.

Two State Bank of Vietnam officials also answered lawyers’ questions about their alleged violations in covering up the wrongdoing at SCB and receiving bribes for it.

Do Thi Nhan, former chief bank inspector, said the auditing was done on the orders of her boss, Nguyen Van Hung, former deputy chief inspector.

She said she only met with Lan at first to convince her to sell some of SCB’s assets to pay its debts.

Hung admitted to ordering Nhan to audit the bank, but said he did not pay much further attention to it because he was preparing to retire soon.

At the ongoing trial, Lan has been charged with bribery, violating banking regulations and embezzlement for allegedly misappropriating VND304 trillion ($12.31 billion) from SCB.

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

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