Vietnam, 23 April, 2024 In a historic ruling, a Vietnamese court has handed down a death sentence to property magnate Truong My Lan for her involvement in a staggering $12.5 billion financial fraud, marking the country’s largest-ever recorded case of its kind.

Truong My Lan, the chairperson of prominent developer Van Thinh Phat, was convicted of embezzlement, bribery, and violations of banking regulations following a trial in Ho Chi Minh City. State media reported the verdict, noting that her legal team now has a 15-day window to lodge an appeal.

The 67-year-old was found to have illicitly controlled the Saigon Joint Stock Commercial Bank (SCB) from 2012 to 2022, funneling funds through a network of ghost companies and bribing government officials. The scale of her alleged misappropriation amounted to roughly 3 percent of Vietnam’s GDP in 2022, with authorities seizing over 1,000 properties linked to her.

Lan vehemently denied the accusations, shifting blame onto subordinates. In a dramatic courtroom moment, she confessed to contemplating suicide, expressing regret for her involvement in the cutthroat banking sector, which she admitted to having limited understanding of.

The severity of the sentence was justified by the court due to the gravity of the offenses, characterizing Lan as the mastermind behind a meticulously orchestrated criminal enterprise. The judgment emphasized the irretrievable nature of the losses incurred, highlighting the erosion of public trust in governmental leadership.

The arrest of Truong My Lan in October 2022 was a high-profile event in Vietnam’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign, dubbed the “Blazing Furnace.” This campaign has swept through the upper echelons of Vietnamese politics, resulting in the resignation of two presidents and two prime ministers, alongside the disciplining or incarceration of numerous officials.

Truong My Lan’s husband, Eric Chu Nap-Kee, a Hong Kong investor, was among the 86 individuals implicated in the case, accused of orchestrating fraudulent loan applications. Notably, Lan’s niece, Truong Hue Van, who served as the CEO of Van Thinh Phat, was also a key figure on trial.

The verdict, which saw 84 defendants receive sentences ranging from probation to life imprisonment, underscores Vietnam’s commitment to combatting corruption and financial malfeasance, with unprecedented transparency shedding light on previously opaque power structures.

James Roberto

A multimedia journalist focused on producing articles about controversial global issues specifically on business, economy, politics, and technology. A strong believer in freedom of the press and exposing the wrong. only through engagement and communications can we as humans evolve. An accredited member of a leading local broadcast media organization.