Vietnam arrests former chief of state shipbuilding giant as OceanBank case deepens

By Ba Do   January 25, 2018 | 11:43 pm PT
The second phase of investigations into the multi-million-dollar graft case has netted its first big fish.

Former board chairman of Vietnamese shipbuilding giant Vinashin was arrested on Thursday for allegedly accepting illegal deposit interest payments from the scandal-hit OceanBank.

Nguyen Ngoc Su is accused of using Vinashin funds to earn more than VND105 billion ($4.6 million) in illegally inflated interest payments for his subordinates.

Nguyen Ngoc Su, former board chairman of Vinashin. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Public Security

Nguyen Ngoc Su, former board chairman of Vinashin. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Public Security

He is facing charges of abuse of power, said investigators from the Ministry of Public Security.

Su, 61, served as board chairman of Vinashin from October 2012 until retiring in August last year. Before that, he was deputy general director in charge of finance at state oil giant PetroVietnam.

His arrest is part of the second stage of investigations into violations at OceanBank.

Last September, 51 bankers and businessmen stood trial in Hanoi for losses worth nearly VND1.6 trillion ($70.4 million) at the bank.

The lender’s former chairman Ha Van Tham was sentenced to life in jail after being held mainly responsible for offering deposit rates above those set by the central bank to various customers between 2010 and 2014. Tham claimed it was part of a strategy to attract funds and keep the business afloat, but his argument was dismissed.

The list of beneficiaries included many state-owned giants such as PetroVietnam, which itself owned a 20 percent share in OceanBank.

Nguyen Xuan Son, former board chairman of the oil group, received the death penalty for appropriating VND246 billion ($13.6 million) from the bank in excessive interest payments.

According to the investigation, more than 50,000 individuals and nearly 400 organizations and businesses received preferential deposit interest payments from the bank.

OceanBank was founded in 1993 with a 20 percent stake from Ocean Group, which also invests in hospitality, securities, media and retail. It was taken over by the central bank in April 2015 after the scandal broke.

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