The real estate tycoon was sentenced to death for fraud

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HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A Vietnamese real estate tycoon was sentenced to death Thursday in the country’s biggest ever financial fraud case, a shocking development in an intensifying anti-corruption drive in the southeast Asian nation.
Truong My Lan, a high-profile businesswoman who chaired a sprawling company that developed luxury apartments, hotels, offices and shopping malls, was arrested in 2022.
Death sentences are not uncommon in Vietnam, but it is rare in financial crime cases and for someone this well known.
Here is a look at the key details of the case: WHO IS TRUONG MY LAN?
Over the years VTP grew to become one of Vietnam’s richest real estate firms.
Lan was involved in the 2011 merger of the beleaguered Saigon Joint Commercial Bank, or SCB, with two other lenders in a plan coordinated by Vietnam’s central bank.
Lan’s arrest in October 2022 is among the most high-profile in an growing anti-corruption drive in Vietnam.
This is happening as Vietnam tries to argue its case for being the ideal home for businesses trying to move away from neighboring China.

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HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — In the nation’s largest-ever financial fraud case, a Vietnamese real estate tycoon was sentenced to death on Thursday. This was a startling development in the country’s escalating fight against corruption.

A well-known businesswoman named Truong My Lan was detained in 2022. She was the chair of a large corporation that built opulent residences, hotels, offices, and shopping centers. As per state media outlets, the 67-year-old has been found guilty of two crimes: illegally controlling a major bank and allowing loans that caused losses of $27 billion, and fraud totaling $12.5 billion, or nearly 3 percent of the nation’s GDP in 2022.

In Vietnam, capital punishment is not unusual, but it is uncommon in cases of financial crime and for a person of this caliber.

The salient features of the case are as follows:.

HUMANITY IS TRUONG MY LAN?

According to official media outlet Tien Phong, Lan was born in 1956 and began her career by assisting her mother, a Chinese businesswoman, in selling cosmetics in the oldest market in Ho Chi Minh City.

When Vietnam’s state-run economy was replaced with a more open-to-foreign, market-oriented one in 1992, she and her family founded the Van Thinh Phat company. With time, VTP expanded to rank among the wealthiest real estate companies in Vietnam.

Currently, the company is associated with several of the most valuable downtown properties in Ho Chi Minh City, such as the five-star Windsor Plaza Hotel, the 37-story Capital Place office building, the glitzy 39-story Times sq\. Saigon, and the five-star Sherwood Residence hotel, where Lan resided prior to her arrest.

In 1992, Lan got married to Eric Chu Nap-kee, a Hong Kong-based investor. On Thursday, he was given a nine-year prison sentence. Two daughters are raised by them.

WHAT ACTS ARE THEY ACCURED OF?

Lan participated in a plan orchestrated by Vietnam’s central bank in 2011 that saw the troubled Saigon Joint Commercial Bank, or SCB, merge with two other lenders.

Government documents claim that she used the bank as her cash cow, unlawfully controlled it from 2012 to 2022, and used thousands of “ghost companies” in Vietnam and other countries to provide loans to herself and her allies.

States media VnExpress said on Thursday that the loans caused losses of $27 billion.

She was charged with breaking banking laws and offering bribes to public officials, including a former central official who received a life sentence for accepting bribes totaling $5.2 million, according to official records.

Given that her actions “not only violate individuals’ property management rights but also forced SCB into a state of special control, eroding people’s trust in the leadership of the (Communist) party and state,” the court sentenced her to death. “.

WHY IS THIS OCCURRING RIGHT NOW?

Among the most well-known arrests in Vietnam’s expanding anti-corruption campaign is Lan’s one from October 2022.

The former president, Vo Van Thuong, resigned a few weeks after her trial began in early March due to her involvement in the so-called Blazing Furnace anti-graft campaign. This campaign was led by Nguyen Phu Trong, General Secretary of the Communist Party, who is currently the most powerful politician in the country since the campaign started in 2013.

With his pledge that the campaign will be a “blazing furnace” in which no one is safe from scrutiny, the 79-year-old ideologue sees corruption as a serious threat to the party.

Although Lan’s arrest and the scope of her deception stunned the country, the case also made foreign investors uneasy and made them wonder if other banks or companies had engaged in similar practices.

Vietnam is making an effort to show why it is the best place for companies looking to relocate from China, its neighbor, by putting up this argument.

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