Vietnam court hands long jail terms in $5.7 mil bank swindle

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A group involved in faking documents to swindle VND120 billion ($5.7 million) from Agribank stands trial in a Ho Chi Minh City court January 14. The mastermind had fled to the US with most of the money. Photo courtesy of Lao Dong

A Ho Chi Minh City court sentenced 14 people including executives of state-owned Agribank to up to 20 years in jail for swindling US$5.7 million from the bank, but the mastermind of the scam has fled to the US and has an Interpol warrant out for her.

Nguyen Thi Phuong Hoa, a deputy director at Reetech Company -- owned by state-owned Refrigeration Electrical Engineering Corporation -- has been wanted by Interpol since 2010 after she allegedly fled after taking most of the money, Lao Dong newspaper reported.

Tran Huynh Nghia, former director of Cat Phuong Nam Company and board chairwoman of Truong Phat Dat Company, got 20 years for fraud.

Nghia was Hoa's main accomplice in the fraud, helping fake documents to show that her companies were investing in Reetech to make 11 loan applications between 2005 and 2008 for a total of VND200 billion ($9.5 million) at the bank's Tan Binh District branch.

Only VND120 billion was disbursed before the fraud was discovered.

Her sentence has been reduced given her remorseful attitude and family's contribution in the wars.

The court gave Hoa's husband Huynh Cong Phuc 14 years, Nguyen Kim Doanh and Pham Duy Soan, former directors of Truong Phat Dat, eight and 3 1/4 years respectively.

Pham Viet Van, former director of the branch, got 12 years, while his sales deputy heads, Do Giao Toan and Ngo Duc Tai, got 10 and 3 1/2 years for "irresponsibility causing serious consequences."

Sales head Dang Thi Duyen Nghia got 3 1/4 years.

Two others in the loan department, Nguyen Van Chin and Vo Duc Hung, was sentenced to five years and two years and eight months.

Nguyen Trong Luan and Nguyen Minh Hoa, supervisors of Agribank's internal affairs in the southern region, were sentenced to three years and a month and two years and eight months respectively.

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