Ponzi operator who allegedly stole $6.8 mil finally faces trial

By Viet Dung   October 17, 2018 | 08:39 pm PT
A man who operated Ponzi schemes by setting up two different companies and allegedly pocketed $6.8 million faces trial after a long delay.

Lam Huu Son, chairman of King Vietnam Real Estate Corporation and 5F Capital Investment Consulting Company, is set to be charged with "appropriating property through swindling."

Phan Van Cuong, general director of King Company, Nguyen Hong Minh, deputy general director of 5F Company, and Dao Van Y, a 5F employee, will face the same charges.

Lam Huu Son at the first trial seven months ago. Photo acquired by VnExpress.

Lam Huu Son at the first trial seven months ago. Photo by Viet Dung

Seven months ago the case had almost been tried by the Hanoi People's Court. Investigators had only questioned Son, Minh and Y since Cuong had been absconding until just before the trial began. When they informed the court he had been apprehended, the court postponed the trial to make Cuong too a defendant.

The scam began with King Company claiming to be a financial corporation.

Son also claimed it was a strategic partner of FBS Markets, an international brokerage with operations in more than 190 countries, and a partner of the Institute of Banking and offered courses and prestigious financial investment certificates, and owned hotels, restaurants, beauty salons, and mines.

The company offered depositors of VND30 million ($1,280) or more than 36 percent interest for three-month terms, 38.4 percent for six months, 42 percent for nine, and 45.6 percent for a year.

It managed to make 140 gullible people part with more than VND45 billion ($1.9 million) between April and November 2014.

After King Corporation stopped their operation, Son paid back some of the depositors, but allegedly appropriated VND20 billion ($856,000) from 97 people.

Prosecutors have clarified King Corporation had no links with FBS Markets or any of the other entities it had mentioned.

Son then set up 5F Company and hired Minh as deputy general director and Y as a business consultant.

He told them to organize seminars and meetings to promote the company and its 14 projects in which profits would purportedly range from 17 to 20 percent a month.

5F accepted deposits and offered huge interest rates depending on the sum deposited and period: 36 percent, 42 percent, 42-48 percent, and 54-72 percent.

People referring others were paid commissions of 35-50 percent while depositors were taken on jaunts to Thailand and Nha Trang and given gifts of gold and iPhones.

This time 568 people deposited VND153 billion ($6.5 million) in less than a year until May 2016.

Investigators found Son's company appropriated more than VND140 billion ($6 million) this time.

The trial dates are not known. If found guilty, they could be sentenced to death given the sum of the stolen money.

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