Former oil execs prosecuted in banking graft case

By Viet Dung   January 4, 2019 | 09:27 pm PT
Former oil execs prosecuted in banking graft case
Tu Thanh Nghia (L), former general director of Vietnam-Russia joint venture Vietsovepertro, and Vo Quang Huy, VSP's former chief accountant, have been charged for abuse of power. Photo by VnExpress/File
A former CEO and chief accountant of Vietsovpetro are accused of involvement in excess interest payments made by OceanBank.

Vietnam's top prosecutors have pressed charges against Tu Thanh Nghia, former general director of Vietnam-Russia joint venture Vietsovepertro (VSP), and Vo Quang Huy, VSP's former chief accountant, for "abuse of power to appropriate property."

Nghia and Huy will be tried in Hanoi.

VSP opened an account with OceanBank in late 2008 and began making long term deposits.

Under a 2009 instruction from state-owned oil giant PetroVietnam, VSP's parent company and a major shareholder in OceanBank, the firm began prioritizing the use of the bank's financial services, making major deposits.

From late 2008 to 2014, VSP signed with OceanBank a total of 54 deposit contracts worth over VND13 trillion ($560 million) and another 70 worth over $1.26 billion.

The company also opened four payment accounts with the bank and maintained large monthly balances of up to VND900 billion and $400 million.

Investigators determined that during his time as VSP's general director from July 2013 to 2014, Nghia signed four contracts worth VND1.9 trillion ($81.8 million) and another five worth $55 million, all of which were proposed by Huy.

Directed by its then chairman Ha Van Tham to offer deposit rates above those set by the central bank to various customers, Oceanbank's former general director Nguyen Minh Thu personally paid Huy and Nghia excess interest payments multiple times between 2013 and 2014.

Huy was found to have received nearly VND8 billion ($344,000) from Thu, while Nghia received over VND2.1 billion ($90,400).

The prosecution of Nghia and Huy are part of the second phase of investigations into a multi-million dollar graft case at OceanBank.

Between 2010 and 2014, the excess interest paid by OceanBank to customers on Tham’s orders caused losses of over VND1.58 trillion ($67.4 million), inspectors estimated.

Following the case's first phase of investigations, a Hanoi court in September 2017 sentenced Tham to life imprisonment. He said it was a strategy to attract deposits, but the court rejected this argument.

Nguyen Xuan Son, the bank's former general director and a former chairman of PetroVietnam, was sentenced to death for appropriating VND246 billion ($10.5 million) from what were claimed to be excess interest payments.

When summoned to the court during Tham and Son's trial, both Nghia and Huy denied having received excess interest payments, but confessed their crime after they were arrested.

According to prosecutors, Huy's family has since returned over VND4.1 billion ($177,000) while Nghia has returned all the excess interest payments he had received.

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