Hanoi bank director arrested after customers lose $13.6M

By Vo Hai, Vu Tuan   March 28, 2024 | 03:20 pm PT
Hanoi bank director arrested after customers lose $13.6M
People doing transactions at Vietnam Maritime Commercial Joint Stock Bank. Photo courtesy of MSB
Head of a Vietnam Maritime Commercial Joint Stock Bank (MSB)'s Hanoi branch has been arrested for allegedly swindling VND338 billion ($13.63 million) from customers.

Bui Thi Hoai Anh, 40, was arrested as part of an investigation into accusations that the lender's Thanh Xuan branch in Vietnam’s capital "obtained property by fraud," said vice director of Hanoi police Nguyen Thanh Tung on Thursday.

In October 2023, Hanoi police received reports from MSB insiders that Anh had "showed signs" of stealing VND165 billion from customers.

An investigation revealed that Anh could be prosecuted for stealing a total of VND338 billion from eight of the branch's customers.

Authorities have yet to announce a list of her alleged accomplices, but are instead focused on recovering the assets in question in order to return them to victims.

Nguyen Thi Lan, 58, opened an MSB account in early 2021 per a suggestion by a bank employee.

She was told that the account would be managed by MSB, which would report to her the amount of money held at the end of each day and at the end of each month.

The agreement stated that the account could be accessed via mobile applications.

The money that Lan deposited had a term of between 1-4 weeks.

If she wanted to withdraw funds at the end of the term, or extend the timeframe, she would need to inform the bank at least a day in advance, according to allegations.

The first time Lan made a transaction via the account, she saw that information reported to her online was correct, so she continued sending money to the account.

By Oct. 7 last year, she had sent a total of VND58.6 billion. Every time she sent the money, she received confirmation from the bank.

However, on Oct. 12 last year, when Lan visited the MSB branch in person to request a bank statement, she found out that there was only VND93,000 left in her account. She said she did not withdraw any money, nor did she approve any transaction for the money to be withdrawn.

In a Tuesday announcement, MSB said it had received similar feedback from many customers who said their money in accounts opened at the bank had disappeared.

The bank then said that during a regular inspection at the Thanh Xuan branch, the lender had discovered certain employees displaying "abnormal signs with a group of customers."

The bank said that it then reported the matter to police for further investigation.

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