Hanoi court suggests 30-year jail sentence for disgraced banker

The Hanoi People’s Procuracy on May 27 proposed imposing a 30-year jail charge on one of Vietnam’s top banking tycoons, Nguyen Duc Kien, for his role in a multi-million dollar scandal uncovered last year.

As co-founder of the Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) and a shareholder in some of Vietnam's largest financial institutions, Kien, 50, was charged with fraud, tax evasion, illegal trade and deliberate wrongdoing causing serious consequence. 

The procuracy suggest that besides being fined for illegal trade and tax evasion, Kien should be banned from holding positions in finance for 3-5 years. 

Tran Ngoc Thanh, former Director of the Hanoi ACB Investment JSC, faces 9-10 years in jail, while its former Chief Accountant Nguyen Thi Hai Yen will likely to receive a 7-8 year sentence, both for swindling to appropriate assets. 

Among defendants indicted on charges of State economic mismanagement causing serious consequences, it has been suggested that ACB former General Director Ly Xuan Hai should sit behind bars for 12-14 years and former Vice Chairmen Le Vu Ky and Trinh Kim Quang for 6-8 years. 

The procuracy also asked for a three-year suspended sentence and five year’s probation for former ACB Chairman Pham Trung Cang and board member Huynh Quang Tuan. 

Tran Xuan Gia, former ABC Chairman, was temporarily suspended from indictment because he is suffering from a serious illness. 

According to the indictments, from 1993, Kien owned nearly 3.8 percent of ACB’s shares. He served as ACB Vice Chairman during 1994-2008 and was Chairman of the bank’s investment council for nine years from 2003. 

He was found to have used six of his own companies between May 2007 and August 2012 to conduct illegal financial and gold trading valued at more than VND21 trillion (US$1 billion) without the proper licenses. 

The businesses involved are Thien Nam Production and Import-Export JSC, B&B Trade and Investment JSC, Asia Financial Group JSC, Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) Hanoi Investment JSC, Asia Hanoi Investment Financial JSC, and Asia Investment JSC. 

In addition, Kien swindled to appropriate assets in a mortgage of 20 million shares of the Hoa Phat Steel JSC worth VND264 billion (US$12.4 million) at the bank in May 2012. The prosecution argued that he instructed Thanh and Yen to make a fake document from a management board meeting to defraud the mortgage. 

Kien and his accomplices - Gia, Ky, Cang, Quang, Hai, and Tuan – on March 22, 2010 also issued a decision mandating individuals to deposit cash and foreign currencies at credit organisations. 

Between June and September 9, 2011, Hai empowered the chief accountant to deposit VND720 billion (US$33.8 million) at Vietinbank’s Nha Be and Ho Chi Minh City branches. However, the amount was embezzled by Huynh Thi Huyen Nhu, former Deputy Chief of the Risk Management Department of the Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade (Vietinbank). 

Moreover, Kien and the former ACB officials also issued policies to buy stocks and invest in ACB shares, causing losses worth nearly VND690 billion (US$32.4 million).

VNA/VOV online