Company chairman gets life for $24M fraud

By Thanh Lam   April 25, 2023 | 05:28 pm PT
Company chairman gets life for $24M fraud
Pham Thanh Hai stands before the Hanoi People's Court for obtaining property by fraud, April 25, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Danh Lam
A former Hanoi company chairman was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday for swindling VND570 billion ($24.2 million) out of people by selling them phony "investments."

Pham Thanh Hai, 57, former chairman of the International Trade, Investment and Development Technology Company (IDT), was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Hanoi People’s Court after being found guilty on the charge of "obtaining property by fraud."

Hai provided false information about fake projects to persuade thousands of people to invest their money. Over VND2.7 trillion was given to Hai to use as investments in said "projects," but he actually only placed some VND99 billion in failed companies. He used most of the actual money for his own personal spending: he paid back interest on loans he had taken out, he put some in bank accounts, and some he even used to loan out again seeking profits on high interest rates . He eventually lost the ability to pay his "investors," owing them a total of over VND576 billion.

Among Hai’s 574 victims, 31 did not request compensation, so Hai has only been ordered to compensate to the tune of just over VND572 billion.

Throughout the 7-day trial, Hai proclaimed his innocence, saying the "projects" he touted were real, but admitted they were risky and that he had always warned his investors about it.

Tuesday's trial was a re-trial of the case.

Hai was already sentenced to life in prison back in May 2018, but the sentence was dismissed a year after that as the number of victims, the amount of damage incurred and possible accomplices needed to be verified.

Hai founded the IDT company in 2007, which dealt in multiple fields but was not successful. A year later, he began to organize conferences to teach people "how to get rich quickly."

He claimed to have a PhD and business experience in the Soviet Union. He said his IDT company had multiple projects calling for investments, and investors would get up to 50% in interest returns if they invested with him, among other claims.

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