Trial of Chinese-led $800M loan shark ring in Vietnam delayed

By Dac Thanh   March 23, 2024 | 10:25 pm PT
Trial of Chinese-led $800M loan shark ring in Vietnam delayed
Defendants in the $800-million loan shark ring case appear in court in central Quang Nam Province, March 20, 2024. Photo courtesy of VnExpress/Dac Thanh
A trial of a group led by Chinese nationals accused of issuing loans of more than VND20 trillion (US$807 million) to over a million people was postponed on Friday after two days of opening due to new circumstances arising.

40 people, including three Chinese citizens, stood trial this week after being prosecuted for providing loans in civil transactions at unreasonably high interest rates, money laundering, property appropriation, bribery, bribery brokerage and fraudulent appropriation of property, according to the indictment.

The trial is scheduled to be resumed on April 22.

According to the indictment, Lu Wang, 37, was identified as the mastermind of the loan shark ring.

Li Xiao Hu, 41, was responsible for accounting and employee management, and Wu Jian Chao, 42, was in charge of receiving money from payment intermediary companies to pay employee salaries and operating expenses.

The remaining 37 defendants are Vietnamese who were accused of helping the Chinese nationals operate the loan shark ring, establishing ghost companies and using violence to collect money from debtors.

In 2018, a group of Chinese people came to HCMC and started running the loan shark ring through mobile apps and websites.

Nguyen Chanh Thien, 31, was hired to help operate the ring with his initial monthly salary at VND8 million but later increased to VND18 million.

Thien hired many people to establish and purchase pawnshop companies.

According to authorities, Thien and his accomplices signed contracts with nine intermediary companies to help the Chinese group hide huge profits. The ring used 5,000 unofficial bank accounts to circulate money, thereby organizing money laundering and using many illegal methods of transferring money out of Vietnam.

Through ghost companies, the ring recruited hundreds of people.

The ring set up more than 65 mobile apps and websites to attract borrowers. A team specialized in promoting these apps on social networks while another team was responsible for looking for customers who were lured to borrow money without collateral.

Customers who wanted to borrow money from the ring would be instructed to log in to the registration link with required information including full name, bank account, identification card, contact phone number and a relative’s phone number.

Each debtor could borrow up to VND12 million each time with interest rates of 35-40%, equivalent to 2,000-2,350% a year.

Those failing to pay interest rates on time will be reminded while those who were overdue for many days would be threatened, slandered, insulted, and defamed on social networks.

The ring was discovered by Quang Nam Police last year when some victims who failed to pay on time were smeared on social media.

According to authorities, since it began operating in 2018, the ring had provided loans of over VND20 trillion to more than one million people nationwide, thereby amassing illegal profits of over VND8 trillion.

They organized money laundering and illegally transferred over VND5 trillion out of Vietnam in many forms, mainly virtual currency.

"This is the largest transnational online lending network ever," according to Quang Nam Police.

Some Chinese people involved in the ring have left Vietnam. Among those arrested, Lu Wang was accused of benefiting nearly VND7 billion, Li Xiao Hu with more than VND630 million.

The 37 Vietnamese people who assisted the Chinese suspects to operate the ring were paid from VND6 to 30 million.

go to top