9 Vietnam private bank executives charged in massive scam

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The Supreme People’s Procuracy, Vietnam's top prosecutors' office, has ratified charges against nine executives of Asia Commercial Bank and an associated company for their alleged involvement in a massive financial scandal.


ACB co-founder and former deputy chairman Nguyen Duc Kien, 50, faces charges of “committing illegal business activities,” “intentionally violating state regulations on economic management,” fraud, and tax evasion.


Former CEO Ly Xuan Hai, former chairman Tran Xuan Gia, former deputy chairmen Trinh Kim Quang, Le Vu Ky, and Pham Trung Cang, and board member Huynh Quang Tuan have been charged with “intentionally violating state regulations on economic management.”


Tran Ngoc Thanh, director of ACB Hanoi Investment Joint Stock Company (ACBI), and Nguyen Thi Hai Yen, ACBI’s chief accountant, have also been charged with fraud.


ACBI is one of six companies founded by Kien that was carrying on financial business without proper licenses, prosecutors said.


According to the indictment, Kien established the ACB co-founders’ board in 2007 and appointed himself as its deputy chairman without approval from the State Bank of Vietnam.


In this capacity and as a representative of a group of shareholders holding more than a 9 percent stake in ACB, Kien manipulated the bank's management, investigators said.


He also set up six other companies which carried on illegal business activities, according to prosecutors.


These caused losses of around VND1.7 trillion (US$80 million) to ACB and other banks and companies, they said.


The amount does not include debts of VND433 billion ($20.5 million) run up through gold trading by Thien Nam Production and Export-Import Joint Stock Company, one of the six companies.


Investigators said Kien ordered the six companies to issue bonds and sell them to banks. They then used the money to buy stocks in other banks and invest in other companies.


Kien was chairman of four of the companies.


Prosecutors said using the proceeds from the sale of bonds in that manner was against the law.


Besides, the six companies were not even licensed to issue bonds, they said.


One of the companies, B&B Trade and Investment Joint Stock Company, is accused of evading VND25 billion ($1.2 million) in taxes, according to the indictment.


Kien, listed as one of Vietnam’s 100 richest men in 2010, was arrested in August 2012.


One of the four charges he faces - fraud - could attract a life sentence. 

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