Vietnam banker dies while serving life sentence for violations during tenure

By Hai Duyen, Quynh Trang   June 18, 2024 | 05:41 pm PT
Vietnam banker dies while serving life sentence for violations during tenure
Tran Phuong Binh at a court in Ho Chi Minh City in 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Hai Duyen
Tran Phuong Binh, former General Director of Dong A Bank, died at 65 while serving a life sentence for a series of violations during his tenure at the bank.

His family said he passed away on Thursday evening due to sickness. It is not clear what kind of disease he had suffered.

Earlier, at the end of March, Binh was tried by the Ho Chi Minh City People's Court in his fifth criminal case, accused of violating lending regulations, causing a loss of VND981 billion (US$38.73 million) to Dong A Commercial Joint Stock Bank (DAB).

Due to his poor health, Binh was hospitalized after two days in court and was absent during the sentencing on April 1. The court handed him a jail term of eight years.

By that time, he had already been sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

In 2018, the HCMC court sentenced Binh, who was arrested in 2016, to life imprisonment for "deliberately violating state regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences" and "abusing position and power to appropriate assets."

He was held mainly responsible for losses of nearly VND3.5 trillion at the partly state-owned bank, which was incurred as the bank had paid interest to customers beyond the regulated rates, committed violations in foreign currency and gold trading, and got involved in a share-buying scheme.

According to the indictment, in 2013, Dong A Bank planned to raise its charter capital from VND5 trillion ($220 million) to VND6 trillion despite having several financial issues. To achieve this goal, Binh convinced fallen Da Nang real estate tycoon Phan Van Anh Vu to buy 60 million shares in the bank for VND600 billion.

To raise cash for the deal, Vu mortgaged a plot of land with the bank to secure a VND400 billion loan. Binh then had his subordinates falsify paperwork for the remaining VND200 billion.

However, the plan to raise the bank’s capital fell through, so Binh instructed his staff to transfer VND600 billion plus interest to Vu's company, although the latter had only paid VND400 billion to the bank in the original share purchase deal.

Investigators concluded that Vu had misappropriated VND200 billion from the bank. He has admitted to this, but claimed he had only been following Binh's instructions. He also repaid the money to minimize the damage incurred by the bank.

The rest of the money is no longer retrievable, investigators said.

Binh has a Bachelor of Economics, with many years of teaching experience before founding and leading DAB for two decades.

He served as the CEO of DAB from 1998 and was the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors from 2013 to 2015.

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