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Vietnamese property tycoon sentenced to death in US$12.46bil fraud case

HANOI — A court in Vietnam sentenced real estate tycoon Truong My Lan to death over her role in a 304 trillion dong (US$12.46 billion) financial fraud case, the country’s biggest on record, state media reported.

Lan, the chairman of real estate developer Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group, was found guilty of embezzlement, bribery, and violations of banking rules at the end of a trial in Vietnam’s business hub Ho Chi Minh City, state media reports said.

The trial, which began on March 5 and ended earlier than planned, came as part of a campaign against graft that the leader of the ruling Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong, has pledged for years to stamp out, although with few tangible results.

The crackdown, dubbed “blazing furnace”, has seen hundreds of senior state officials and high-profile business executives prosecuted or forced to step down.

At one point in 2022, Vietnamese stocks suffered a US$40 billion wipeout following a series of big corporate arrests, rattling investor confidence at a delicate moment for the fast-growing economy.

Lan’s lawyers were not immediately available for comment.

Lan and her accomplices were accused of siphoning off more than 304 trillion dong from Saigon Joint Stock Commercial Bank (SCB), which she effectively controlled through dozens of proxies, according to investigators.

From early 2018 through October 2022, when the state bailed out SCB after a run on its deposits, Lan appropriated large sums by arranging unlawful loans to shell companies, investigators said.

Lam will appeal the verdict, a family member told Reuters before it was issued. — Reuters