Vietnam bankers receive prison terms for loan scam

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Former Agribank employees stand among other defendants at their trial for causing the bank to lose more than US$5 million. Photo by Le Nga

Several former leaders of a Ho Chi Minh City branch of state-owned Agribank were sentenced to up to 22 years in prison on Tuesday for causing the bank to lose more than VND111 billion (US$5.2 million).

The one-week trial at the HCMC People's Court concluded with former teller Huynh Trung Hieu receiving the stiffest sentence of 22 years; while former financial planner Dao Phuong The was sentenced to 12 years. Nguyen Huu Long, former deputy director of the District 3 branch, got ten and a half years.

All three were convicted of "violating lending regulations" and "abuse of power."

The branch's former director Doi Sy Thuy received a three-year suspended sentence with five years' probation for "irresponsibility causing serious consequences."

Tran Quoc Dan, who thought up the plan to scam the bank out of money between 2009 and 2010, remains at large with a warrant out for his arrest.

Dan had a personal relationship with the branch's then deputy director Long.

The four people who helped him by representing fake companies to borrow money using fake property papers as collateral, were sentenced to between five and eight years, and were ordered to repay the money.

Last year, Agribank, Vietnam's largest lender by assets and its only fully state-owned bank, became ensnared in a series of multimillion dollar embezzlements involving senior employees, who reportedly stole the money to finance their gambling habits.

Its former general director Pham Thanh Tan was arrested in January for "irresponsibility causing serious consequences." No further details have been made available since.

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