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Vietnam tycoon Truong My Lan sentenced to death in $12.5bn fraud case

A court in Vietnam has sentenced a property tycoon to death over her role in a $12.5bn financial fraud case, the country’s largest on record.

Truong My Lan, chair of major developer Van Thinh Phat, was found guilty of embezzlement, bribery and violations of banking rules at the end of a trial in Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday, according to state media. Her lawyers now have 15 days to appeal the verdict.

The 67-year-old illegally controlled the Saigon Joint Stock Commercial Bank (SCB) between 2012 and 2022 to siphon the funds through thousands of ghost companies and by paying bribes to government officials.

Vietnamese property tycoon Truong My Lan, centre, inside the court [AFP]
The value of her alleged asset appropriation was equivalent to about 3 percent of Vietnam’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2022, and prosecutors said they seized more than 1,000 properties belonging to her.

Lan had denied charges levelled against her, instead blaming subordinates. In her final remarks to the court last week, she said 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.”

The court attributed its harsh sentence to the seriousness of the case, saying Lan was at the helm of an orchestrated and sophisticated criminal enterprise that had serious consequences with no possibility of the money being recovered, reported VnExpress state media.

Her actions “not only violate the property management rights of individuals and organizations but also push SCB into a state of special control; eroding people’s trust in the leadership of the Party and State”, VnExpress quoted the judgement as saying.

Derek Kanalo
the authorDerek Kanalo
News Reporter/ Editor
Am a professionally trained and well skilled media personality. Accuracy is part of my top priority as a journalist.