17 charged with swindling nearly $190.6 mln in bank scam

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The Ministry of Public Security's inspectors have proposed charges against 17 people, including bank officials, for cheating local banks and companies out of nearly VND4 trillion (US$190.59 million).

Ringleader Huynh Thi Huyen Nhu, 34, a former deputy chief of the office of risk management at Vietinbank's Ho Chi Minh City branch, and her accomplices are facing various charges including fraud, abuse of power, and violations in credit loans, a source told Thanh Nien on December 14.

Between March 2010 and September 2011, Nhu led others in the forging of bank seals and documents in order to swindle some VND3.986 trillion, the source quoted the inspectors' final findings as saying.

The money came from deposits of three banks, including Asia Commercial Bank (ACB), nine companies and three individuals at the Vietinbank branch and another branch in Nha Be District, also in HCMC.

Six former senior managers of ACB Nguyen Duc Kien, a co-founder, Ly Xuan Hai, former CEO, Tran Xuan Gia, former chairman, and former deputy chairmen Trinh Kim Quang, Le Vu Ky, and Pham Trung Cang have also been under investigation to determine their involvement.

However, inspectors have yet to propose charges against them until they complete their investigation into their wrongdoings in another case.

According to inspectors' final findings, the ACB leaders illegally approved the deposit of nearly VND719 billion ($34.17 million) at Vietinbank HCMC branch and Nha Be branch between June and September 2011, allowing Nhu to pocket all of it.

A December 15 Tuoi Tre report said the leaders then assigned 19 employees with the deposit which earned ACB an annual interest rate of 14 percent plus an additional 3.7-13 percent not mentioned in the contract.

The State Bank of Vietnam set the interest rate ceiling, including promotional rates, at 14 percent a year, at that time.

In fact, between May 2010 and November 2011, ACB had deposited over VND36.322 trillion ($1.73 billion) at 29 banks across the country with annual interest rates of 11.2-27 percent a year, according to Tuoi Tre. They also deposited more than $71 million with the rates of 3-6 percent, it added.

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According to inspectors, the ACB leaders were also involved in illegal business activities and fraud at ACB and three companies where Kien served as board chairman - B&B Trade and Investment Joint Stock Company, ACB Hanoi Investment Joint Stock Company and Asia Financial Investment Ltd., Co.

Kien and Hai were arrested in August as Hai stepped down from his post prior to the arrest. Meanwhile, Gia, Ky, and Quang, resigned from their posts two weeks before police investigations got underway.

Cang, who quit ACB and joined Vietnam Export Import Bank (Eximbank) in 2010, also resigned as Eximbank's deputy chairman around the same time.

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