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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Death Sentence for Vietnam Billionaire in Biggest Fraud Case

Truong My Lan, a Vietnamese real estate tycoon, was sentenced to death by a court in Ho Chi Minh City, in connection with the country’s biggest fraud case, according to state media.

Lan (67), who was arrested in 2022, is the chair of the real estate company Van Thinh Phat. She is accused of committing fraud worth $12 billion, which is nearly 3 per cent of the country’s 2022 GDP, The Associated Press reported, citing Vietnam’s Thanh Nien.

Between 2012 and 2022, Lan illegally controlled the Saigon Joint Stock Commercial Bank to siphon off funds through thousands of ghost companies and by paying bribes to government officials.

Lan’s arrest was among the most high-profile in a sweeping anti-corruption drive that has intensified since 2022. The drive, ‘Blazing Furnace’ campaign, has not even spared top Vietnamese politicians.

Last month, Vo Van Thuong, resigned after being implicated in the anti-corruption drive.

Van Thinh Phat is among Vietnam’s richest real estate firms and has projects, including luxury residential buildings, offices, shopping centres and hotels.

The scale of the fraud drew concerns among analysts at a time when Vietnam was trying to position itself as an alternate place for investors trying to scale down their supply chains from China.

In 2023, an estimated 1,300 property firms withdrew from Vietnam’s real estate market, dealing a huge blow to the sector.

According to state media, developers have been offering discounts and gold as gifts to attract buyers. Despite rent for shophouses falling by a third in Ho Chi Minh City, several properties in the city centre remain vacant.

Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, Vietnam’s top politician, said in November last year that the anti-corruption campaign would “continue for the long-term”.

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(Source: India Today)

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