Vietnam convicts 36 bankers for graft
A VIETNAM court convicted 36 former bank employees, including the chair, for stealing more than US$400 million, the largest sum ever pilfered from Vietnam’s scandal-hit banking sector.
The bankers from the joint-stock Vietnam Construction Bank secretly withdrew money from clients’ saving accounts, using the cash for loans or depositing it into their own accounts, reports said.
“The defendants were convicted of deliberately breaking laws on economic management and violating bank lending activities,” the Ho Chi Minh City court clerk told AFP.
“Former bank chairman Pham Cong Danh was given 30 years in jail. Others were sentenced to between 22 years in jail and three years probation,” he added.
Communist Vietnam’s economic growth hit 6.7 percent last year, its fastest rate in five years, boosted by strong exports, foreign investment and domestic consumption.
But soaring public debts, bloated state-owned enterprises and rampant corruption have made economic progress vulnerable.
The country’s banking sector has been rocked by a series of scandals in recent years, with the high-profile arrests of wealthy businessmen and executives over allegations of corruption, embezzlement or incompetence.
Earlier this year, three senior former bankers and six securities officials were arrested over a fraud worth millions of dollars at the partly state-run MHB Bank.
Last July police arrested the former chair of state oil giant Petro-Vietnam over mistakes that allegedly led to the loss of a $38 million investment in Ocean Bank.
Ocean Bank’s former chair, Ha Van Tham, once one of Vietnam’s richest businessmen, is now in detention, pending trial for violations of lending regulations.