Central bank official allegedly took $5.2M bribes in bond fraud case

By Minh Hoang   November 17, 2023 | 08:20 pm PT
Central bank official allegedly took $5.2M bribes in bond fraud case
Customers and staff are seen at an office of SCB in District 6, Ho Chi Minh City in 2022. Photo courtesy of SCB
A former chief inspector at the State Bank of Vietnam has been accused of receiving US$5.2 million in bribes to conceal a bank's violations in a major bond fraud case.

Do Thi Nhan, former head of the Inspection and Supervision Department at the central bank, was among 86 people that a Friday Ministry of Public Security report recommended be charged with crimes associated with a bond fraud case involving real estate giant Van Thinh Phat.

Nhan was the only suspect accused of receiving bribes, while 19 of her accomplices face charges such as abuse of power and negligence.

The ministry recommended that Truong My Lan, chairwoman of Van Thinh Phat, be charged with giving bribes, violations of banking regulations, and embezzlement.

Van Thinh Phat made headlines after Lan and several associates were arrested in October last year for alleged fraud related to the issuance of bonds worth trillions of dong (VND1 trillion = $42.56 million).

Around 40,000 people bought bonds from An Dong, a subsidiary of Van Thinh Phat, through Saigon Commercial Bank (SCB).

Lan held a more than 90% stake at SCB, while her relatives held top positions at the bank, which thus acted in her interest, investigators said.

Nhan led the team that inspected SCB operations in August 2018.

At the time, Lan met with Nhan in person, allegedly to discuss concealing the bank’s violations and poor financial situation in order to keep it from being put on the central bank’s special control list.

Investigators have accused her of ordering her employees to bribe Nhan and send gifts to members of Nhan’s inspection team.

Nhan received $5.2 million via SCB’s CEO Vo Tan Hoang Van, and then sent reports about the bank that investigators have alleged "were dishonest and falsified inspection results."

Her reports lessened SCB’s violations, preventing the central bank and the government from employing timely control measures at the bank, and also preventing further inquiries into Lan and possible wrongdoings.

Nhan has returned all the bribe money and has been cooperative during the investigation, police said.

Although Lan still denies having ordered the bribery, investigators said they have collected enough evidence to accuse her for that.

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