Vietnamese property tycoon faces further charges as banking graft case extends

By Ba Do   April 18, 2018 | 07:39 pm PT
Phan Van Anh Vu allegedly colluded with Dong A Bank's former CEO to appropriate $8.8 million from the bank.

Vietnamese police have extended their investigation into a fallen real estate tycoon in Da Nang and a former banking executive who have been accused of abusing their power to appropriate property.

The latest charges laid against ex-fugitive businessman Phan Van Anh Vu and Dong A Bank's former CEO Tran Phuong Binh are part of an investigation into million-dollar losses incurred at Binh's bank.

According to investigators, in 2013, Dong A Bank planned to raise its charter capital from VND5 trillion ($220 million) to VND6 trillion despite having financial issues. To achieve this goal, Binh convinced Vu to buy 60 million shares in the bank for VND600 billion.

To raise cash for the deal, Vu mortgaged a plot of land in Da Nang to the bank to secure a VND400 billion loan. Binh then had his subordinates validate the remaining VND200 billion ($8.8 million) using false paperwork.

However, the plan fell through, so Binh instructed his staff to transfer VND600 billion plus interest to Vu's company. Vu has already spent the money so it is no longer retrievable, investigators said.

Police concluded that Vu had appropriated VND200 billion from the bank and should be held responsible for returning it. He has admitted to the violations but claimed he had only been following Binh's instructions.

Tran Phuong Binh (L), former CEO of Dong A Bank, and Phan Van Anh Vu, an ex-fugitive Da Nang tycoon, are under arrest for multiple criminal charges. File photo by VnExpress

Tran Phuong Binh (L), former CEO of Dong A Bank, and Phan Van Anh Vu, an ex-fugitive Da Nang tycoon, are under arrest for multiple crimes. File photo by VnExpress

Binh, 59, is currently being held accountable for losses of nearly VND3.5 trillion ($153.8 million) at the bank. He was arrested in December 2016 and has since been charged with economic mismanagement and abuse of trust to appropriate property.

Vu, 42, is under investigation for "deliberately disclosing state secrets," "tax evasion" and "abuse of power in performance of official duties" in a separate case. The investigation into this case has resulted in the arrests of a former Da Nang chairman and a retired senior police official on Tuesday, while multiple former Da Nang officials are also under investigation for land management violations.

Vu was one of the biggest property investors in Da Nang. He was the chairman of three major property companies and a shareholder in a number of other projects in the city, usually considered the third most important in Vietnam after Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Last December, authorities conducted a search of Vu's house before issuing an international arrest warrant for him. He was detained in Singapore later that month for violating the country's immigration law, before being deported to Vietnam where he was arrested upon arrival.

Dozens of Vietnamese officials and business figures have been arrested in a crackdown on corruption that is being spearheaded by Vietnam’s Communist Party leader Nguyen Phu Trong.

The crackdown grabbed global headlines last year when former oil executive Trinh Xuan Thanh showed up in Hanoi after fleeing to Germany. Police said he turned himself in. He received two life sentences for embezzlement at state-owned PetroVietnam at trials this year.

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