Van Thinh Phat chairwoman accused of stealing $12.5B

By Pham Du   November 17, 2023 | 11:38 pm PT
Van Thinh Phat chairwoman accused of stealing $12.5B
Van Thinh Phat chairwoman Truong My Lan (L) and her niece and accomplice Truong Hue Van pictured at the police station. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Public Security
Truong My Lan, chairwoman of disgraced property developer Van Thinh Phat, has been accused of manipulating lender SCB in order to appropriate VND304 trillion ($12.53 billion) from its customers.

The Ministry of Public Security recommended on Thursday that Lan be charged with a variety of crimes, including bribery, violating banking regulations, and embezzlement.

Eighty-five other people were included in the recommendation for similar alleged crimes and also appropriation of property via abuse of trust.

Police said Lan has been the bank’s majority shareholder since 2012, consistently controlling between 85% and 91.5% of all shares, with the remainder belonging to over 4,000 shareholders.

Although Lan did not hold any title at the lender, investigators have said that members of her family hold senior positions at the bank, which "basically served her."

She used the bank to raise money from customers and took out a total of VND304 trillion as loans, according to the police. If interest rates are accounted for, the sum is over VND415 trillion.

The ministry also recommended that Lan be charged with fraudulent appropriation of assets through bond issuance and money laundering. The police, however, have parsed this crime into a different case.

According to investigators, Lan and her accomplices issued 25 bond batches worth over VND30 trillion between 2018 and 2020. There were signs of malice and illegal activities in the forming and distributing of these bonds, investigators said.

Lan was arrested in October last year along with three other alleged accomplices. Many others have also been arrested since for involvement.

Five officials of the State Bank of Vietnam were arrested in March for their involvement in Lan’s case.

Police are now searching for two former SCB chairmen and five of their subordinates. Among them, one is a Chinese national, and one is a Canadian citizen.

The value of Lan’s asset appropriation, estimated at $12.53 billion, is equivalent to around 6% of Vietnam's current GDP, and 11% of the country's total outstanding property loans.

The figure is larger than the market capital of most banks in Vietnam except Vietcombank.

The staggering figure also accounts for more than the combined net worth of Vietnam’s five billionaires
(now $11.8 billion).

The total is triple the net worth of Vietnam’s richest man Pham Nhat Vuong.

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