Vietnam's Coffee Queen checkmates King in one court case

By Ky Hoa   September 21, 2018 | 09:20 am GMT+7
Vietnam's Coffee Queen checkmates King in one court case
Le Hoang Diep Thao has been reinstated as deputy director of Vietnam's top coffee corporation Trung Nguyen. Photo by VnExpress

A court ruled Thursday that the estranged wife of Trung Nguyen’s boss should be reinstated as deputy general director.

Le Hoang Diep Thao had filed a lawsuit against her husband Dang Le Nguyen Vu's decision to dismiss her as coffee giant Trung Nguyen Group's deputy general director, preventing her from taking part in running and managing the company.

In her lawsuit, Thao said that as Vu's wife and co-founder of Trung Nguyen, she was a member of the group's board of directors and owned 10 percent of its charter capital, as well as 50 percent of her and Vu's common assets.

In May 2006, Thao was appointed Trung Nguyen's deputy general director, allowing her to manage the company under Vu's authorization.

Under her management, Trung Nguyen's charter capital increased from VND150 billion ($6.5 million) to VND2.5 trillion ($108.7 million) and both the company's annual revenue and profit grew significantly, Thao claimed.

However, in July 2014, Vu signed a decision to dismiss Thao as deputy general director without the board of directors' approval. He also instructed his employees to demolish her office and block her from entering the company's headquarters, Thao alleged.

Furthermore, he prevented Thao from performing her rights and responsibilities as Trung Nguyen's shareholder and a board member, prompting her to file the lawsuit.

After failing to reconcile the couple, the HCMC People's Court in September 2017 accepted parts of Thao's requests and voided the decision Vu issued in 2014, reinstating her as Trung Nguyen's deputy general director and ordering Vu not to prevent her from managing the company.

Both Vu and the Trung Nguyen Group appealed the ruling. Vu asked the court to quash the ruling and suspend the case while Trung Nguyen claimed that the issue was an internal dispute, not a commercial one for the court to adjudicate on.

At the Appeals Court on Thursday, Vu's lawyer insisted that documents showed he had not prevented or hindered Thao from running the company.

The lawyer also claimed that Vu had already withdrawn the decision to dismiss Thao following the trial court's ruling in 2017. As the object of the lawsuit no longer exists, the case is no longer under the court's jurisdiction and should be suspended, she argued.

Thao's lawyer, meanwhile, pointed out that the defendant's claim that "the object of the lawsuit no longer exists" contradicts the decision to appeal the ruling.

He also asserted that Thao being prevented from running the company was evident from the fact that she was rarely invited to meeting and was not allowed to get involved in company's contracts or meet its partners.

In addition to the lawsuit on deputy general directorship, Thao and Vu are also involved in several other legal disputes including their divorce, management rights over the Trung Nguyen Instant Coffee Company and a case filed against the head of the Business Registration Office under Binh Duong Province's Department of Planning and Investment.

 
 
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