Bankers, fat cats charged in massive Vietnam financial scandal

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Vietnamese prosecutors have ratified charges against seven former leaders of Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) and 6 associated companies for violating economic laws.


The Supreme People's Procuracy, Vietnam's highest prosecutors' office, ratified the charges sought by investigators from the Ministry of Public Security on Sunday.


ACB co-founder Nguyen Duc Kien, 49, faces charges of "committing illegal business activities", "intentionally violating state regulations on economic management", fraud and tax evasion.


Ly Xuan Hai, former ACB CEO, Tran Xuan Gia, former chairman, and former deputy chairmen Trinh Kim Quang and Le Vu Ky 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 conducting financial business activities without proper licensing, investigators said.


According to the indictment, Kien established the ACB co-founders' board in 2007 and named himself deputy chairman of the board without the approval of the State Bank of Vietnam.


With the title and as a representative of a group of stakeholders that held more than 9 percent of ACB's charter capital, Kien manipulated all management activities at the bank, investigators said.

He also established six companies that conducted illegal business activities, according to prosecutors.


Via these business activities, Kien and the six other executives caused losses of around VND1.7 trillion (US$80 million) to ACB and other banks and companies, prosecutors said.

The figure does not include debts of VND433 billion ($20.5 million) incurred via gold trading at Thien Nam Production and Export-Import Joint Stock Company, one of the six companies.


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


At the time, Kien was chairman of four of the companies.

Prosecutors said using earnings from the sale of bonds in the manner that the companies did was against the law.


Moreover, the 6 companies were not licensed to sell bonds.

One of Kien's 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, who was 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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