Thursday , February 22 2024

Van Thinh Phat chairwoman charged with stealing $12.5B from lender SCB

Truong My Lan, the chairwoman of property developer Van Thinh Phat, has been charged with appropriating VND304 trillion ($12.53 billion) from lender SCB, and paying $5.2 million to officials in bribes.

The Supreme People’s Procuracy of Vietnam issued the charge Friday, one month after the Ministry of Public Security released its investigation conclusion on Lan and her accomplices.

Lan’s trial will take place at the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court.

85 people involved with the case were also charged, including 15 former officials of the State Bank of Vietnam, three former officials of the Government Inspectorate, and one former official of the State Audit Office.

The charges were embezzlement of assets, accepting bribes, abusing positions and powers while performing official duties, lack of responsibility causing serious consequences and violating regulations on banking operations.

The prosecutors said that Lan in 2011 acquired three private banks to merge into Saigon Commercial Joint Stock Bank (SCB), which she used as a financial company to finance property developer Van Thinh Phat’s ecosystem.

Although she does not directly hold executive power, Lan owns 91.5% of SCB’s shares through other individuals.

She directed the bank’s leaders to coordinate with key officials at Van Thinh Phat to withdraw the bank’s money under fake loan applications.

Lan instructed her accomplice many times to disburse the money first and complete the paperwork later.

From 2012 to 2022, Lan’s group has more than 2,500 loans at SCB with a total disbursement of more than VND1 quadrillion ($44 billion), which accounts for 93% of the total credit that the bank has issued. The remaining 7% was lent to regular customers.

The sum was 10.7% of Vietnam’s GDP last year, which was $409 billion.

By 2022, 875 customers in Lan’s group with nearly 1,300 loans had outstanding debt at SCB of more than VND677 trillion. These debts are not recoverable.

In order to legalize the withdrawal and avoid being detected, Lan directed SCB officials to transfer disbursed money to ghost companies.

The prosecutors said that from February 2018 to October 2022, Lan directed the establishment of 916 SCB loan applications of VND545 trillion and appropriated VND304 trillion.

Lan was also accused of causing interest losses of nearly 130 trillion to SCB. She allegedly caused a damage of more than VND64.6 trillion to the bank.

To hide her wrongdoings Lan instructed her subordinates to bribe inspectors, including Do Thi Nhan, former head of the Department of Inspection and Supervision of the State Bank, who allegedly took $5.2 million.

During the investigation process, prosecutors found many loopholes in credit and banking regulations that enabled the crimes.

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