Vietnam bank chiefs arrested over dubious loans to seafood firm

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 Phuong Nam Seafood JSC in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang faces debts of US$75.7 million

Police have arrested several bankers in the Mekong Delta on suspicion of wrongdoing related to loans given to a major seafood exporter that went bankrupt with debts of VND1.6 trillion (US$75.7 million) in 2011.

According to online newspaper Dan Tri, officers from the Ministry of Public Security also took in Lam Minh Man, chief accountant of the company, Phuong Nam Seafood JSC.

He was suspected of faking documents to get loans from the Vietnam Development Bank in Soc Trang Province and LienVietPostBank in Hau Giang Province between 2008 and 2011.

Phuong Nam is estimated to owe VND341 billion to the Soc Trang bank, and more than VND328 billion to the Hau Giang bank, according to the newspaper.

Nguyen The Thang, director of the Soc Trang bank, and deputy director Nguyen Van Xem are among those arrested.

Do Hung So, director of the Hau Giang bank, and Nguyen Thanh Hai and Nguyen Hoai Bao, who are in charge of the credit division, have also been arrested.

The six are being investigated for "violating loan regulations at credit organizations," Dan Tri reported.

Four others at the Hau Giang bank faced similar charges but have not been taken in, it said.

According to the police, the violations were discovered three months ago when Phuong Nam began a restructuring plan under an agreement with seven creditor banks.

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Documents showed that the company had stocks worth more than VND700 billion ($33 million), though they were only worth around VND22 billion.

Phuong Nam was one of Vietnam's top 10 seafood exporters before its general director, Lam Ngoc Khuan, moved to the US with his family leaving behind debts of VND1.6 trillion, or more than five times the company's capital.

The police are investigating.

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