Three officials from major bank resign following arrest of tycoon

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A pedestrian walks past an Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) branch in Hanoi

Three officials of a major bank, which was recently immersed in turmoil following the arrests of its co-founder and CEO, have resigned from their posts.

The Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) said in a press release Wednesday that board chairman and former Minister of Planning and Investment, Tran Xuan Gia, and two deputy board chairmen, Le Vu Ky and Trinh Kim Quang, had resigned due to personal and health issues.

The bank said the three officials had also been involved in a ratification that empowered ex-CEO Ly Xuan Hai, who was arrested last month, to instruct 19 ACB employees to transfer VND718 billion from ACB into the Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade (VietinBank).

The bank has already appointed their replacements.

Tran Hung Huy, deputy CEO, board member and son of Tran Mong Hung, another ACB co-founder and former board chairman, has been elected new board chairman of ACB.

Julian Fong Loong Choon and Luong Van Tu, a former deputy minister of industry and trade, have been appointed as deputy chairmen.

The replacement came just one day after the Ministry of Public Security's police announced that bank tycoon Nguyen Duc Kien, an ACB co-founder who was arrested last month for alleged malfeasance, has been charged with two additional crimes.

Kien, 48, was nabbed on August 20 following allegations of wrongdoing at three companies where he served as a board chairman - B&B Trade and Investment Joint Stock Company, ACB Hanoi Investment Joint Stock Company and Asia Hanoi Financial Investment Ltd., Co.

He was charged with "illegal trading," punishable by up to two years in prison.

Kien is now also under investigation for "fraud," a charge which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison and "deliberately violating state regulations on economic management, resulting in serious consequences," punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

On Tuesday, police also arrested Tran Ngoc Thanh, director of the ACB Hanoi Investment Joint Stock Company, and Nguyen Thi Hai Yen, the company's chief accountant, who are suspected of being Kien's accomplices.

The company received a business license in November 2006 for real estate, construction, house leasing and mediation, and to conduct real estate auctions.

The company has a registered capital of VND300 billion, 30 percent of which was contributed by Kien.

Kien was a co-founder of ACB, one of Vietnam's largest partly-private banks, and owns stakes in it and other banks including Kien Long Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Kienlong Bank) and the Vietnam Export-Import Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Eximbank).

Listed as one of Vietnam's 100 richest men in 2010, he also served as vice chairman of the Vietnam Professional Football Joint Stock Company, which runs the V-League.

Earlier, three days after Kien's arrest, Hai, former CEO of ACB, was also taken into custody for allegedly "violating state regulations on economic management, resulting in serious consequences."

Hai, 47, who will be in custody for four months, had his resignation accepted by the ACB board earlier that day. He had served as the bank's CEO since 2005.

In an interview with the Cong An Nhan Dan (People's Police) newspaper, Lieutenant General Phan Van Vinh, director of the Ministry of Public Security's Criminal Police Department, said the two arrests were unrelated. However, he refused to provide more details about the cases, saying that they were still being investigated.

Following the arrests, shares of ACB stock took a nosedive as customers rushed to withdraw money from the bank.

In response to the chaos, Vietnamese banks, including the State Bank of Vietnam, pledged they would support ACB, and the bank's leaders claimed soon after that they had overcome the crisis.

Pham Trung Cang, deputy chairman of Vietnam Export Import Bank, often known as Eximbank, has also resigned. Cang, 58, was once a senior official at ACB before joining Eximbank in 2010, news website VnExpress reported.

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