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Prominent Vietnamese Real Estate Tycoon Sentenced to Death in Major Fraud Case

Vietnamese Real Estate Tycoon Sentenced to Death in Record-Breaking Financial Fraud Case

HANOI, Vietnam – In a shocking development that is part of an intensified anti-corruption drive, Vietnamese businesswoman Truong My Lan, 67, has been sentenced to death in the country’s largest ever financial fraud case. The high-profile tycoon, who chaired a prominent real estate development company, was found guilty of fraud amounting to $12.5 billion, a considerable 3% of Vietnam’s 2022 GDP.

While death sentences are not uncommon in Vietnam, they are exceptionally rare in financial crime cases, let alone for individuals of high social standing. The verdict demonstrates the government’s strong stance against corruption and financial mismanagement.

Who is Truong My Lan?

Truong My Lan, born in 1956, started her career selling cosmetics alongside her Chinese businesswoman mother in Ho Chi Minh City’s oldest market. In 1992, Lan and her family established the Van Thinh Phat company, which became one of Vietnam’s most prosperous real estate firms. The family’s company now owns and manages numerous valuable properties in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, including the famous Times Square Saigon, Windsor Plaza Hotel, Capital Place office building, and Sherwood Residence Hotel.

Lan’s husband, Eric Chu Nap-kee, is a notable Hong Kong investor. The couple has two daughters.

What is She Accused Of?

Lan’s alleged involvement in the 2011 merger of Saigon Joint Commercial Bank (SCB) with two other lenders is central to the case. She is accused of exploiting the bank for personal gains, illegally controlling it between 2012 to 2022, and utilizing a network of “ghost companies” in Vietnam and abroad to secure loans for herself and her associates. This fraudulent activity and mismanagement allegedly led to losses of $27 billion, making it one of Vietnam’s most significant financial scandals. Government documents also reveal allegations of bribery, including the payment of bribes to high-ranking officials, and violation of banking regulations.

Business woman Truong My Lan, center, attends a trial in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on Thursday, April 11, 2024. (Thanh Tung/VnExpress via AP)

Why is This Happening Now?

Lan’s arrest in October 2022 is part of an ongoing anti-corruption drive in Vietnam, which has gained momentum since 2022. The trial coincided with the resignation of former President Vo Van Thuong, who was allegedly involved in the “Blazing Furnace” campaign spearheaded by Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong. This case has not only stunned the nation but also raised concerns about potential misconduct at other financial institutions and businesses, undermining Vietnam’s economic outlook and causing unease among foreign investors. As Vietnam seeks to position itself as an attractive destination for businesses looking to relocate from China, addressing corruption and improving financial transparency are critical for its reputation.

Source: https://apnews.com/article/vietnam-truong-my-lan-sentence-fraud-trial-f0b97cf206f5656e09eb9c410861a153

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