Truong My Lan: Real estate tycoon sentenced to death in Vietnam's biggest fraud


Thursday, 11 April 2024 (16:29 IST)
Vietnamese real estate tycoon Truong My Lan was sentenced to death on Thursday as punishment for her role in a 304 trillion dong ($12.46 billion) financial fraud case, Vietnam's biggest on record.
Lan, the chairwoman of real estate developer Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group, was found guilty of embezzlement, bribery and violations of banking rules at the end of a trial in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's largest city and business hub.
"The defendant's actions ... eroded people's trust in the leadership of the [Communist] Party and state," read the verdict, with prosecutors saying that the total damages caused by the scam amount to €27 billion — equivalent to 6% of Vietnam's GDP in 2023.
Lan 'angry that I was so stupid'
Lan, 67, denied the charges and blamed her subordinates.
"I am so angry that I was stupid enough to get involved in this very fierce business environment, the banking sector, which I have little knowledge of," she said, according to state media, adding that she has considered suicide.
"In my desperation, I thought of death," she said.
Lan and 85 other defendants were arrested as part of a national corruption crackdown that has swept up numerous officials and members of Vietnam's business elite in recent years.
More than 4,400 people have been indicted across more than 1,700 graft cases since 2021, although the death sentence is an unusually severe punishment.
What exactly did Lan do?
Lan, who is married to a wealthy Hong Kong businessman also on trial, was found guilty of setting up fake loan applications to withdraw money from the Saigon Commercial Bank (SCB), in which she owned a 90% stake.
Police say they have identified around 42,000 victims of the scam, SCB bondholders who cannot withdraw their money and have not received interest payments since Lan's arrest in October 2022.
Also as part of the anti-corruption crackdown, a top Vietnamese luxury property tycoon, Do Anh Dung, head of the Tan Hoang Minh group, was sentenced to eight years in prison last month after being found guilty of cheating thousands of investors in a $355 million bond scam.

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