Ex-Bank Executive May Face Death in Vietnam Fraud Trial
A Vietnam court will consider the death penalty for two former executives if they’re convicted in a $25 million fraud scheme, signaling an aggressive stance as leaders seek to clean up the banking system.
The People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City may hand down the death penalty for Vu Quoc Hao, the former general director of Agribank Financial Leasing Co. (FLKO) No. 2, who is charged with embezzling 531 billion dong ($25 million) of state property, the official Vietnam News reported yesterday. Dang Van Hai, the former chairman of a construction company, also faces the death penalty in the case, the newspaper said.
The trial comes as the government seeks to shore up Vietnamese banks saddled with Southeast Asia’s highest rate of bad debt and turn around an economy that grew last year at the slowest pace since 1999. The central bank governor vowed to crack down on violations by groups of shareholders working against banking reforms last year.
“It would be a signal: You could be executed for being caught doing large-scale corruption,” said Adam McCarty, the Hanoi-based chief economist at Mekong Economics. “It has implications for the whole bank restructuring the government is about to do. They want to really dig into these bad debt issues and find out who is responsible for the problems.”
Vietnamese courts held 278 corruption trials this year while the state inspectorate has uncovered 80 new fraud cases involving state funds, according to a government report released yesterday that did not give comparable figures for previous years.