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Vietnam businesswoman sentenced to death over corruption

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A real estate mogul has been sentenced to death in Vietnam, after the businesswoman was accused of large-scale corruption.
A Vietnam businesswoman has been sentenced to death for corruption

A businesswoman in Vietnam has been sentenced to death over corruption and embezzlement.

Real estate agent Truong My Lan was found guilty of corruption after she and dozens of accomplices stole 304 trillion dong ($AU18.6 billion) from one of Vietnam’s biggest banks.

Vietnam businesswoman

Truong My Lan set up a real estate and property development company called Van Thinh Phat in 1992.

The firm owned many luxurious properties, hotels, and office buildings.

Lan launched Van Thinh Phat at a time when Vietnam was relaxing some of its rules around business dealings and global markets. This allowed her to grow the business through deals with international clients.

Anti-corruption

Vietnam’s leader, Nguyen Phu Trong, launched a major crackdown on corruption in 2016.

Trong has said he views corruption, which can include fraud, dishonest conduct and abuse of power, as one of the “gravest threats” to the country’s Communist regime.

More than 200,000 Communist Party members and 50 military generals have been disciplined under Trong’s anti-corruption campaign, called “Blazing Furnace”.

Downfall

Lan was one of a group of more than 80 people arrested in 2022 over suspected embezzlement (secretly stealing money), bribery, and fraud.

The main charges against her related to the Saigon Commercial Bank.

In Vietnam, it’s illegal for one person to own more than 5% of a bank. However, Lan was involved in an unlawful scheme that saw her gain control of more than 90% of the bank. Investigators argued she abused this control to make money.

During the trial, prosecutors said Lan issued illegal bank loans to companies that she owned.

She was accused of ordering a worker to withdraw more than $AU6 billion in cash, to be stored at one of her properties.

Lan also attempted to cover up her corrupt dealings by bribing officials.

The entire scheme was worth around $AU18.6 billion, or the equivalent of about 2.5% of Vietnam’s gross domestic product (a way of measuring the country’s total wealth).

Death sentence

This week, a court sentenced Lan to death for corruption. The businesswoman has 15 days to appeal being sentenced to death, according to Vietnam court rules.

She continues to deny the charges against her.

She’s one of the only women in Vietnam to have received the death penalty for corrupt conduct.

More than 80 other defendants in the case were handed a range of sentences from good behaviour to life imprisonment.

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