Vietnam banker gets 20 years jail term in second sentence

By Ky Hoa   August 6, 2018 | 03:15 pm GMT+7
Vietnam banker gets 20 years jail term in second sentence
Pham Cong Danh, former chairman of Vietnam Construction Bank (VNCB), which is now Construction Bank, appears at the court in Ho Chi Minh City on August 6, 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen

The ex-chairman of a major bank, already in jail for 30 years, has got a 20-year sentence that will run concurrently.

The Ho Chi Minh City People's Court sentenced a total of 46 banking executives and staff to various prison terms on Monday in a case involving fraud worth millions of dollars.

Among the defendants were Pham Cong Danh, 53, former chairman of Vietnam Construction Bank (VNCB), which is now the Construction Bank, and Tram Be, 58, former deputy chairman of Sacombank.

They were found guilty of “deliberately violating state regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences.”

Danh was sentenced to 20 years in jail while Be received four years.

According to the indictment, Danh and other staff of VNCB secretly withdrew money from clients' saving accounts and used the cash to secure loans from other banks, pay off debts or deposit into their own accounts.

Of the money stolen from VNCB, Danh used VND6.1 trillion ($263 million) to secure loans from Sacombank, BIDV and TPBank for his ghost companies.

When these companies were unable to repay the loans, the three banks seized the deposits they'd held as collateral, inflicting losses on VNCB.

Prosecutors had proposed a 20-year sentence for Danh. As he is already serving a 30-year sentence (the maximum prison term allowed by Vietnam's Penal Code except for life imprisonment) for stealing over VND9 trillion ($386 million) from VNCB at a trial in September last year, the sentence at this trial would run concurrently.

The proposed sentence for Be was five to six years in prison. Be is charged with abusing his position to ignore banking regulations in order to help Danh borrow VND1.8 trillion ($77 million) from Sacombank.

Tram Be, former deputy chairman of Sacombank, at the Ho Chi Minh City Peoples Court on August 6, 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen

Tram Be, former deputy chairman of Sacombank, at the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court on August 6, 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen

Of this money, Danh spent VND1.7 trillion on paying debts at another local bank for six companies that he owned, and deposited the rest in a personal account.

Other defendents received between two-year suspended sentence and 10 years imprisonment.

Phan Huy Khang, former general director of Sacombank, got three years in jail while Phan Thanh Mai, former general director of VNCB and Mai Huu Khuong, former deputy director of VNCB, got 10 years each.

Mai and Khuong are already serving 20 years in prison for their involvement in the VND9 trillion case. The latest verdict means they will each spend 30 years in prison.

The massive trial was first launched in January and lasted a month before it was put on hold by the judges, citing a lack of evidence or a strong enough argument to impose charges.

This time, Tran Bac Ha, former board chairman of BIDV, was also summoned to the court among 235 people who were witnesses to the case or had related interests and responsibilities. He did not show up as he was reportedly receiving cancer treatment in Singapore.

Ha was expelled from Vietnam's Communist Party in June for violations including lending Danh VND4.7 trillion ($206 million) from his bank. While BIDV eventually managed to retrieve this money, the loans had helped Danh steal over VND9 trillion from VNCB.

 
 
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