Disgraced Vietnamese Banking Tycoon Kien Given 30 Year Sentence

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The former banker and colorful tycoon listed amongst the country’s 100 richest was fined $3.5 million but his concern will certainly lie not with the financial penalty but the fact that he faces 30 years in jail. The 50 years old banker received a longer prison term than the other seven co-defendants’ sentences collectively for “engaging in illegal business,” and “deliberately violating state regulations on economic management.”

Ly Xuan Hai, ACB’s former CEO, got eight years for “deliberately violating state regulations on economic management” while four other senior executives of the bank received jail terms ranging between two to five years for the same charges.

Illegal deposits

The six were responsible for illegally depositing VND 719 billion (US$34 million) in ACB funds at Vietinbank’s Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Be branches between June and November of 2011. Banks in Vietnam are barred from depositing money in other banks for the purpose of accruing interest. The deposit in question earned interest of 14% annually and an additional 3.7-13%.

The Hanoi People’s Court also ordered an investigation of Kien’s wife, Dang Ngoc Lan, and younger sister Nguyen Thuy Huong following the verdict.

“The accused was not honest and so must be given serious punishment in line with his crime,” court president Nguyen Huu Chinh said at the end of the two-week trial on Monday.

Nguyen Duc Kien: Football corruption and the PM’s daughter

It could be argued that Kien got off “easy” after an employee at the bank that he deposited money in was sentenced to life in prison for fraud recently. Prosecutors also accused Kien of forging documents to defraud the top steel firm Hoa Phat Group of $12.5 million.

Somewhat ironically, Kien was an outspoken critic of corruption in Vietnamese football, and used his position as chairman of Hanoi Football Club as a soap-box for his criticism of the ruling body of Vietnamese football, the Vietnam’s Football Federation.

Kien was arrested in August of 2012 sending shares in ACB plunging while the news sent “shockwaves across the country” according to state media.

At the time of his arrest, it was reported that his charging was a result of infighting in the ruling Communist Party. Kien was a close ally of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and the Vietnamese blogosphere has long questioned dealing that Kien had with the PM’s daughter.

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