Vietnam bank tycoon gets 30 years for fraud, tax evasion

By Ha An, Thanh Nien News

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ACB co-founder Nguyen Duc Kien, 50, stood a trial in Hanoi for fraud, tax evasion and other charges. Photo credit: petrotimes.vn ACB co-founder Nguyen Duc Kien, 50, stood a trial in Hanoi for fraud, tax evasion and other charges. Photo credit: petrotimes.vn

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Vietnamese tycoon and former banker Nguyen Duc Kien, a co-founder of Asia Commercial Bank (ACB), was sentenced to 30 years in prison for fraud and tax evasion and two other charges at a high-profile trial that wrapped up Monday in Hanoi.
Kien, 50, who was once listed as one of the country's 100 richest men, was also convicted of “engaging in illegal business,” and “deliberately violating state regulations on economic management.”
He was ordered to pay VND75 billion (US$3.49 million) as fines and compensation for tax evasion, and another VND100 million ($4,600) that he appropriated by frauds, according to the verdict.
Ly Xuan Hai. ACB's former CEO, got eight years for “deliberately violating state regulations on economic management.” Four other senior executives of the bank received jail terms ranging between two to five years for the same charges.
Kien’s two other co-defendants who were his subordinates at one of his companies, ACB Hanoi Investment Joint Stock Company (ACBI), director Tran Ngoc Thanh, 62, and chief accountant Nguyen Thi Hai Yen, 45, were sentenced to five and half and five years in prison, respectively, for fraud.
The Hanoi People’s Court also ordered criminal investigations into the possible involvement of Kien’s wife Dang Ngoc Lan, and younger sister Nguyen Thuy Huong in his wrongdoings.
Kien and the other former executives of ACB were found guilty of illegally approving a deposit of nearly VND719 billion (US$34 million) in ACB funds at Vietinbank's Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Be branches between June and November of 2011, the verdict said.
The deposit earned an interest rate of 14 percent annually plus an additional 3.7-13 percent.
Banks in Vietnam are prohibited from depositing money in other banks to accrue interest; additionally, the central bank had set a 14 percent interest rate cap during the period.
The Vietinbank deposit was later appropriated by Huynh Thi Huyen Nhu, former chief of the bank's Dien Bien Phu branch in HCMC.
Nhu was sentenced to life in January for cheating local banks, companies and individuals out of nearly VND4 trillion ($189.3 million).
Kien was also found guilty of conducting illegal businesses, including gold trading, and evading taxes at his six companies, including ACBI.
Tran Xuan Gia, 75, a former minister of planning and investment who served as ACB chairman between 2008 and September 2012, was initially charged with violating economic management regulations.
However, the court adjourned proceedings against Gia at the beginning of the hearing, citing his poor health.
Gia, who was being treated at a local hospital for high blood pressure, filed a motion for a continuance with the court, leading to the trial’s adjournment on April 16 after a half-day of hearings.
The trial resumed on May 20.

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