Top Billionaire Sentenced To Death Over $27bn Fraud

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A court has sentenced a top Vietnamese property tycoon to death in one of the biggest corruption cases in history, with an estimated $27 billion in damages.

Truong My Lan, chair of major developer Van Thinh Phat, was found guilty of swindling cash from Saigon Commercial Bank (SCB) over a decade.

A panel of three hand-picked jurors and two judges rejected all the defendant’s arguments.

“The defendant’s actions… eroded people’s trust in the leadership of the (Communist) Party and state,” read the verdict at the trial in southern business hub Ho Chi Minh City.

The trial which lasted for five weeks also has 85 others sentenced on charges ranging from bribery and abuse of power to appropriation and violations of banking law.
Four were given life imprisonment, while the others received jail terms ranging between 20 years and three years suspended.

Lan’s husband, Hong Kong billionaire Eric Chu Nap Kee, was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Lan embezzled $12.5 billion, but prosecutors said Thursday the total damages caused by the scam now amounted to $27 billion — a figure equivalent to six per cent of the country’s 2023 GDP.

The court ordered Lan, 67, to pay almost the entire damages sum in compensation.

The death sentence is an unusually severe punishment in such a case, although the country is a leading executioner globally, according to Amnesty International.

Lan and the others were arrested as part of a national corruption crackdown that has swept up numerous officials and members of Vietnam’s business elite in recent years.

She appeared to say in final remarks to the court last week that she had thoughts of suicide.

“In my desperation, I thought of death,” she said, according to state media.

“I am so angry that I was stupid enough to get involved in this very fierce business environment — the banking sector — which I have little knowledge of.”

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