HANOI: A court has upheld a key judgement in Vietnam’s biggest-ever fraud case, a victim’s lawyer told Reuters, in a trial that has spotlighted the country’s ability to tackle financial crime at a time when foreign banks are heeding government calls to invest.
The Ho Chi Minh City People’s High Court ruled yesterday to uphold a judgment that the central perpetrator of a 4.9 trillion dong (US$215mil) theft is responsible for returning some of the stolen money, rather than the individual’s employer at the time, state-controlled VietinBank.
The ruling comes as financial firms such as investment banks and global buyout funds flock to Vietnam, hoping to capitalise on a period of privatisation and capital-raising deals in the fast-growing emerging South-East Asian economy.
The chief executive of one victim, depositor Saigonbank Berjaya Securities JSC (SBBS) – a unit of Berjaya Corp Bhd also confirmed the verdict. Josephine Yei told Reuters earlier that if the ruling was upheld, she had little hope of recouping her bank’s US$10mil from the perpetrator, who was sentenced to life imprisonment.
“I am heartbroken and lost of words now,” Yei told Reuters after the ruling.
VietinBank, formally Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade, did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
A VietinBank lawyer told Reuters the bank had instructed its lawyers not to comment to media.
Majority owner State Bank of Vietnam – the country’s central bank – could not provide immediate comment.
In many economies, banks can be liable for embezzlement of depositors’ funds if negligence of the bank is established. In Vietnam, interpretation of liability law becomes more open when the perpetrator goes beyond their responsibility, a lawyer said. — Reuters