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Truong My Lan accused of embezzling US$12.36 billion from SCB

The Saigon Times

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HCMC – Truong My Lan, chairwoman of Van Thinh Phat Group, has been accused of orchestrating Saigon Commercial Bank’s (SCB) operations so as to embezzle US$12.36 billion equivalent from the privately-held bank.

The investigative police at the Ministry of Public Security yesterday, November 17, proposed prosecuting Lan on three charges: bribery, violation of banking regulations, and embezzlement.

Also involved in the case are 85 other individuals whom the police proposed prosecuting on charges including embezzlement, violation of banking regulations, bribery, abuse of power, neglect of duty leading to serious consequences, and misuse of trust to misappropriate assets.

Lan is also charged with fraudulently acquiring assets through bond issuance and money laundering but these charges have been separated for further investigation and prosecution in another case.

According to the results of the investigation, SCB operates as a joint-stock company under the Enterprise Law and as a credit institution under the Law on Credit Institutions.

While Ms. Lan was not holding an official position at SCB, she had effective control on the bank thanks to her majority stake, ranging from 85% to 91.5% since three banks were merged into SCB in 2012. The remaining shares, less than 10%, were held by over 4,000 small investors.

The police at the Ministry of Public Security said as the major shareholder, Lan placed relatives of hers in key leadership positions at SCB, such as the Board of Directors and the Executive Board, to serve her interests.

Lan allegedly used SCB as a vehicle to raise capital and then instructed people at SCB and Van Thinh Phat to create bogus loan profiles to make it possible to withdraw the raised money. Calculations by the police showed Lan embezzled a staggering VND304,096 billion (US$12.36 billion) from SCB.

Currently the bank cannot repay this amount, leading to an accumulated interest of over VND129,372 billion. Therefore, the combined damage caused by Lan exceeds VND415,000 billion.

Truong My Lan, founder and chairwoman of Van Thinh Phat Group, a Vietnamese diversified investment group, Truong Hue Van, general director of Windsor Property Management Group Corporation, and multiple other individuals were detained in October last year.

Investigators at the Ministry of Public Security seized 1,237 real properties, one yacht, two ships and 19 cars while they were conducting an investigation into the case involving Truong My Lan, said local news reports.

The ministry’s Investigative Police Department has recently issued an investigation conclusion, proposing prosecuting 86 defendants in the case related to Van Thinh Phat Group, Saigon Commercial Bank (SCB), and associated entities.

The police seized a total of nearly VND599 billion, nearly US$15 million, and thousands of real properties, luxury cars, and yachts, and froze over VND1,890 billion and nearly US$8.5 million owned by the defendants, restricting transactions with a balance of VND789.8 billion in the SCB accounts.

The police took away from Truong My Lan 1,266 original land use and construction certificates, 1,784 copies of land use certificates, a list of 269 leased properties, and 21 notarized contracts.

Among the 1,237 real properties seized by the police, there are three in HCMC, namely 19-21-23-25 Nguyen Hue Boulevard, District 1, where the headquarters of SCB is located; 232 Tran Hung Dao, District 5; and 66 Pho Duc Chinh Street, District 1.

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