Vietnam banking tycoon given 30-year jail term

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Hanoi (AFP) – A Vietnamese court on Monday sentenced a
disgraced banking tycoon to 30 years in jail over a multi-
million dollar scandal that shocked the nation’s already
fragile financial markets.
Nguyen Duc Kien, 50, was found guilty of fraud, tax evasion,
illegal trade and “deliberate wrongdoing causing serious
consequences”, according to the verdict read at the Hanoi
People’s Court.
“The accused was not honest and so must be given
serious punishment in line with his crime,” court president
Nguyen Huu Chinh said at the end of the two-week trial
Monday.
Kien, who denied the charges against him, was given 30
years in jail and handed a 75 billion dong ($3.5 million)
fine.
The flamboyant multi-millionaire went on trial alongside
seven other defendants, all top bankers at Asia
Commercial Bank (ACB), which counts global banking giant
Standard Chartered as one of its “strategic partners”.
The other defendants were given sentences of between
two and eight years. The most senior of the other
defendants, the former director of ACB, Ly Xuan Hai, was
given eight years.
According to the verdict, Kien — a shareholder in some of
Vietnam’s largest financial institutions and a founder of
ACB — and his accomplices caused losses of $67 million
through illegal cross-bank deposits and investments.
Most of the cash vanished when Kien ordered his staff to
make deposits at the Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial
Bank for Industry and Trade (Vietinbank).
An employee from that bank has already been sentenced
to life imprisonment for fraud.
Prosecutors also accused Kien of forging documents to
defraud the top steel firm Hoa Phat Group of $12.5 million.
The banker rose to public prominence as a vocal critic of
corruption in Vietnamese football, using his role as
chairman of Hanoi Football Club to sound off against
Vietnam’s Football Federation.
When Kien was arrested in August 2012 it sent
“shockwaves across the country”, state media reported at
the time, and caused ACB’s share price to plunge.
Experts interpreted the arrest of the high-profile banker as
part of bitter infighting within the ruling Communist Party.
Kien had been seen as an ally of Prime Minister Nguyen
Tan Dung and has become the subject of intense
speculation on blogs over his business dealings with
Dung’s daughter.

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