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Real estate tycoon sentenced to death for fraud — RT World News

Truong My Lan stole the equivalent of 4.69% of Vietnam's GDP in a decade-long embezzlement scheme

A Vietnamese court has sentenced real estate developer Truong My Lan to death for her role in the largest embezzlement scheme ever in Southeast Asia.

A court in Ho Chi Minh City issued the ruling on Thursday after a month-long trial. The court convicted the 67-year-old on charges of bribery, violating banking regulations and embezzlement, the latter charge carrying the death penalty due to the amount of money Lan stole.

Upon hearing the verdict, the 67-year-old defendant spoke “He staggered and was supported by the police.” State news outlet VnExpress reported.

As head of real estate developer Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group (VTP), Lan embezzled more than 304 trillion dong ($12.5 billion) from the joint venture Saigon Commercial Bank (SCB), which she effectively controlled using a network of allies and shell companies. After taking control of the bank in 2012, Lan and her associates used thousands of fraudulent loan applications and created false withdrawal records to transfer money from SCB to her own companies.

Factoring in interest accrued on the fraudulent loans, the fraud caused damage amounting to about 498 trillion dong (US$20 billion), or about 4.69% of Vietnam's GDP.

Lan used some of this money to bribe government officials to ignore her crimes. One of these officials, a senior central bank inspector, was paid $5.2 million to overlook the matter 'Many serious violations' What happened at SCB, he was sentenced to life imprisonment on Thursday, VnExpress reported.

A total of 86 people were tried for their involvement in the Lan scheme, four of whom were sentenced to life imprisonment and the rest were sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

As details of the scheme emerged after Lan's arrest in October 2022, three senior SCB officials committed suicide, triggering a bank run.

“Trung My Lan did not confess to the crime, was stubborn, blamed her subordinates and showed no remorse.” Prosecutors argued last month. “The defendant’s actions have caused extremely serious and irreparable consequences, so Truong My Lan must be permanently removed from society.” Vietnam+ newspaper reported at the time.

While the court ordered Lan to return the embezzled funds, prosecutors acknowledged that much of the money will never be recovered.

Lan's high-profile prosecution was part of a broader anti-corruption campaign carried out since 2016 by Communist Party Secretary-General Nguyen Phu Trong. The crackdown, dubbed the “Burning Furnace”, saw two presidents, two deputy prime ministers and thousands of other government officials and business executives sacked, fined or imprisoned for corruption.

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