Vietnam-Russia Bank officials charged in loan scam case

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Vietnamese police have charged five former officials at the Vietnam-Russia Joint-venture Bank for violating loan regulations and causing losses of hundreds of billions dong to the bank.

According to investigators, between May, 2008 and November, 2009, the bank's branch in Ho Chi Minh City gave three companies, run by Ho Minh Hau and his wife Pham Thi Ai, loans worth a total of over VND1 trillion (US$48 million), including some with interest rate support from the government's stimulus package. The support was meant to buy produce.

Later facing an overdue debt of VND171 billion ($8.2 million), the married couple fled, investigators said, adding that they had issued an international warrant for the fugitives.

The investigation launched in February found that two of the companies - Minh Chi Production, Trade, Service and Transport Company in HCMC, and An Phuc Co., Ltd. In the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, were not legally licensed entities.

But bank officials including Le Nong, former director of the bank branch, and former vice director Tran Hoang, still agreed to provide them the loans.

Police investigators said they sought irresponsibility charges against Nong.

Meanwhile, Hoang, Le Vu Truong Sanh and Pham Ba Chanh, head and deputy head of the customer department, faced charges of violating regulations on loaning at credit organizations.

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