Former central bank leader jailed in Vietnam

By Lan Ngoc, Ky Hoa   July 2, 2018 | 02:10 am PT
Former central bank leader jailed in Vietnam
Dang Thanh Binh, former deputy governor of the State Bank of Vietnam, stands trial in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen
Dang Thanh Binh got three years in prison for violations causing over $635 million in losses to the banking sector.

A court in Ho Chi Minh City sentenced a former central bank deputy governor to three years in jail on Monday for management violations that caused huge losses to the banking sector.

Dang Thanh Binh, 64, was found guilty of "negligence of responsibility, causing serious consequences," a crime punishable by between three and 12 years in jail under Vietnam’s Penal Code.

Binh’s four accomplices – two former bankers at major lender Vietcombank, a former supervisor and a former inspector at the state bank – received between one and two and half years in jail after a week-long trial.

Binh, who served as deputy governor of the State Bank of Vietnam from 2005 until he retired in August 2014, was held accountable for massive losses suffered by the Vietnam Construction Bank (VNCB) in the biggest ever fraud case to rock the country's banking sector.

The indictment noted that Binh had been assigned by the central bank to restructure several weak banks, including VNCB, which is now the Construction Bank.

In August, 2012, he signed a central bank proposal to restructure VNCB that was approved by the government.

However, Binh let the restructure plan fall apart and opened the way for Pham Cong Danh, former chairman of VNCB, to inflict losses of more than VND15 trillion ($653.25 million) to the bank.

In September 2016, a court convicted Danh and 35 other bank employees of stealing more than VND9 trillion ($400 million), the largest sum ever scammed in Vietnam’s banking sector.

The investigation found that Danh and other bankers from VNCB secretly withdrew money from clients' savings accounts and used the cash to secure loans from other banks or deposit it into their own accounts.

Danh was sentenced to 30 years in jail in October 2016, while the 35 other former bank employees received varying sentences of up to 22 years in jail.

Investigators had said that they had enough evidence to conclude that Binh did not fulfill his responsibilities as a deputy governor and did not follow the plan to restructure VNCB as approved.

Binh was also accused of not following directions from the Prime Minister in appraising the ability of Danh. The PM had asked the central bank to evaluate Danh and see if he was qualified for the position.

Instead, the indictment alleged, Binh allowed Danh to continue deepen his management work at VNCB, creating further opportunities for him to commit fraud.

Vietnam’s banking sector has been at the center of Vietnam’s sweeping corruption crackdown, which has ensnared scores of high-ranking officials and business tycoons.

Tran Bac Ha, former board chairman of BIDV, was expelled from Vietnam’s Communist Party last week as he is being probed for violations that helped Danh steal over VND9 trillion from VNCB.

In late May, Hua Thi Phan, who was a major shareholder of VNCB, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for causing more than $700 million in damages to the bank.

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