Vietnam begins first-ever probe into stock manipulation

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The former chairman of a local pharmaceutical firm has become the first person in Vietnam to be arrested on charge of manipulating stock prices.

Le Van Dung of Ho Chi Minh City-based Vien Dong Group was taken into custody Friday as state police launched an investigation into his stock transactions.

Police did not say which stocks had been manipulated by Dung.

Many investors said the 38-year old chairman became well-known after he and a major shareholder of his company purchased a large number of shares of Ha Tay Pharmaceutical, a company listed on Hanoi Stock Exchange, in May and June this year.

Ha Tay's stock then fell sharply in August when a total of nearly 2 millions shares were registered for sale at the same time.

Nguyen Son, head of Market Development Division at the State Securities Commission, said Dung was the first person in Vietnam to be arrested for manipulating stock prices.

Vietnam opened its stock market ten years ago, but the country's Penal Code only added a provision on stock price manipulation this year.

Police also arrested Le Van Manh, Dung's brother, on Saturday for investigation.

Also on the same day, Vien Dong Group appointed a new person to take over Dung's post.

Dung ranked 60th on the list of the 100 richest investors in Vietnam by stock holdings last year with total assets of VND240 billion. He now holds more than 3.6 million shares of Vien Dong, which is listed on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange.

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