Former top shipbuilding officials get 6-17 years in prison

By Viet Dung    June 12, 2019 | 07:28 am PT
Three former top officials of state shipbuilding giant Vinashin will be jailed for appropriating illegal excess interest payments from OceanBank.

After a three-day trial, a Hanoi court Wednesday sentenced Vinashin's former chairman Nguyen Ngoc Su to 13 years in prison for "abuse of power or position to appropriate property."

Vinashins former chairman Nguyen Ngoc Su at the court.

Vinashin's former chairman Nguyen Ngoc Su in court.

The state-owned giant's former general director Truong Van Tuyen, former deputy general director Pham Thanh Son and former chief accountant Tran Duc Chinh received 7-year, 6-year and 17-year sentences respectively on the same charges.

After serving their jail terms, Son and Chinh cannot hold office for another three years, the court ruled.

According to the defendants' statements during the trial, between 2010 and June 2014, Vinashin made over 2,300 term deposit contracts worth nearly VND104 trillion ($4.46 billion) and $182 million.

Under the contracts, the shipbuilding giant received interest payments of nearly VND1.1 trillion ($47.2 million) and $30,000, the indictment said.

Chinh, as Vinashin's chief accountant, was responnsible for receiving and managing the excess interest payments, which were kept off the books and used to cover Vinashin's expenses.

Of the money Vinashin received from OceanBank, Su admitted to appropriating VND8 billion ($343,000) and using VND385 million for personal use, while Tuyen appropriated VND3.5 billion, Son, VND1.2 billion and Chinh, VND10 billion.

The defendants have returned the money they have admitted to appropriating.

However, the recipients of the remaining VND60 billion ($2.57 million) could not be proven so the court ruled that all four defendants must be responsible for returning this money.

Speaking at the trial, Su expressed regret that he had not considered the issue carefully before issuing the policy for Vinashin to deposit money with OceanBank and asked for leniency.

As the defendants have good personal background, recorded many achievements in their works and sincerely declared or admitted to their violations, the court agreed to hand them sentences lighter than the corresponding jail terms as per the Penal Code.

The appropriated money that the defendants had returned would be transferred to OceanBank and deducted from the compensation that the bank's former chairman Ha Van Tham still owes it, the court ruled.

Vinashins former general director Truong Van Tuyen at the court.

Vinashin's former general director Truong Van Tuyen in court.

The trial of Vinashin's top officials was part of the second phase of investigation into a multi-million dollar graft case at OceanBank, which was targeted at the bank's major customers who illegally accepted excess interest payments.

Between 2010 and 2014, OceanBank paid interest above the ceiling rates regulated by the State Bank of Vietnam to customers on Tham’s orders, causing losses of over VND1.58 trillion ($67.7 million).

Following the case's first phase of investigations, a Hanoi court in September 2017 sentenced Tham to life imprisonment after holding him mainly responsible for the losses. Tham 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 the state-run PetroVietnam, was sentenced to death for appropriating VND246 billion ($10.5 million) from excess interest payments.

The case's second phase of investigations has netted executives of several PetroVietnam subsidiaries in addition to the top officials of Vinashin.

Chinh, who received a 17-year sentence Wednesday, had already been given a 18-month sentence in August last year for a similar crime he committed while serving as chief accountant of PetroVietnam's Vietnam Petroleum Institute.

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