Vietnamese Property Mogul and 85 Associates Charged with Alleged Embezzlement of $12 Billion

Vietnamese Property Mogul and 85 Associates Charged with Alleged Embezzlement of $12 Billion

Indictment of Vietnamese Property Mogul

Imprisoned Vietnamese property magnate Truong My Lan, along with her family, amassed a significant portfolio of real estate holdings in Hong Kong and Singapore valued at several hundred million dollars. Lan has recently been charged along with 85 others for misappropriating an estimated VND 304 trillion (approximately $12 billion USD) from a local bank funded through private investments.

Details of the Alleged Embezzlement

Truong, the founder and chair of Van Thinh Phat property group, faces multiple charges, including embezzlement, violating banking regulations, abuse of power, bribery, and trust misappropriation as per a government announcement. Allegedly, she worked with her conspirators from her company and others within the Saigon Commercial Bank (SCB) and the government to fabricate 916 fraudulent loan documents, which granted them access to the aforementioned funds from SCB, causing the bank a loss of VND 129 trillion from early 2018 to late 2022, when Truong was apprehended.

Exponential Growth of Fraud Estimates

The government’s recent estimates suggest that the amount of fraud committed by Truong and her accomplices is tenfold the initial estimation. Previously, they were accused of defrauding investors of VND 30 trillion. In the wake of these charges, entities associated with Truong, such as Singapore’s Viva Land, have been offloading properties, including two in Singapore for a combined $428 million. Meanwhile, her husband, Eric Chu, is reportedly marketing their Hong Kong assets, including a major office building.

Controlling a Major Lender

The indictment from the Supreme People’s Procuracy indicates that Truong managed to control an 85 to 91.5 percent stake in SCB from 2012 to 2022, which allowed her to direct and manipulate the bank’s operations. The comprehensive charge sheet includes various government officials and bank executives, with several remaining at large. The trial date is yet to be announced.

Alleged Methods and Consequences

Truong allegedly positioned co-conspirators in key bank roles, using SCB to funnel capital into her company for real estate ventures. Allegations include setting up shell companies, forging loan documents, inflating collateral values, and orchestrating bribes to government officials to conceal their illicit activities.

Motivated Sellers Amidst Legal Troubles

As Truong remains in custody, her associated businesses and family have been hastily liquidating their real estate properties. Viva Land recently agreed to sell the Hotel Telegraph in Singapore at a significant loss, and Chu has also been reducing his property portfolio, most recently selling off a development site in Hong Kong for substantially less than its purchase price. Estimates suggest that Chu and Truong still hold about HK$8 billion in property assets in Hong Kong, with propositions to sell one of their major buildings there
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