'Very ashamed and remorseful,' central bank inspector says at $12B fraud trial

By Hai Duyen   March 27, 2024 | 08:50 pm PT
'Very ashamed and remorseful,' central bank inspector says at $12B fraud trial
Do Thi Nhan, former head of the State Bank of Vietnam’s Department of Inspection and Supervision, at the People's Court of Ho Chi Minh City on March 27, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Tung
The State Bank of Vietnam’s disgraced inspection chief Do Thi Nhan said she regrets taking a bribe of US$5.2 million to cover up wrongdoing at Saigon Commercial Bank.

At her trial at the People’s Court of HCMC Wednesday for bribery to cover up the lender’s violations and help it avoid coming under special control, she said she has repented and actively cooperated with investigators.

"I feel very guilty, ashamed and remorseful [for my wrongdoing] in front of myself and my family. I have made up for it by giving honest testimonies, repenting, and actively assisting in the investigation."

She pleaded with the court to show leniency given her remorse and other mitigating factors like handing in the entire bribe money to authorities and excellence performance at work earlier.

But prosecutors said the mitigating factors notwithstanding, her crimes were "exceptionally cunning" and worthy of a life sentence for bribery.

Her lawyers argued that the sentence was too harsh since her crimes were part of violations by the entire inspection team of failing to report SCB’s wrongdoing to the government.

She had been merely following instructions given by her boss and former deputy chief inspector Nguyen Van Hung, who made the final decision on the inspection results and was responsible for reporting the bank’s situation to the government, they said.

They also pointed out that the testimonies by property developer Van Thinh Phat’s chairwoman Truong My Lan and former SCB CEO Vo Tan Hoang Van indicated there was no agreement that Nhan would accept any bribe.

And since the bribe was only paid after the inspection had already been completed, it should not have influenced her decisions, they argued, seeking leniency.

Nhan led a team that inspected SCB in August 2018 and was responsible for the inspection report.

She is accused of meeting with Lan to discuss concealing violations and receiving the bribe money through Van.

She then allegedly instructed her subordinates to help cover up the bank’s violations.

At the ongoing two-month trial Lan is on trial for bribery, violating banking regulations and embezzlement after allegedly misappropriating VND304 trillion ($12.31 billion) from SCB.

The prosecutors have recommended capital punishment for her for committing severe crimes over a long period and causing irrevocable consequences.

Between 2012 and 2022 SCB gave Lan over 2,500 loans worth over VND1 quadrillion ($44 billion), equivalent to 93% of its entire credit portfolio. She is accused of causing losses of VND498 trillion to the bank.

The trial began on March 5 and is scheduled to go on until April 29.

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