Embezzlement of $12 Billion! Vietnam’s Richest Woman on Trial for Massive Corruption

According to Vietnam News Agency and People’s Daily reports, Pham Nhat Vuong, Vietnam’s richest woman and founder of the Vingroup real estate conglomerate, was tried on the morning of March 5th at the People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City for alleged corruption, bribery, and fraud. Reuters reported that in this case, Pham Nhat Vuong and nearly 90 other defendants are accused of embezzling $12 billion in assets. If these allegations are proven, it “could become one of the biggest financial fraud cases in Asia.”

Pham Nhat Vuong was arrested by Vietnamese police on October 8, 2022, and subsequently charged with corruption, bribery, and violating credit regulations. The Supreme People’s Procuracy of Vietnam has filed charges against her and 85 other defendants, including officials from the former Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial Joint Stock Bank, the former State Bank of Vietnam, the former Government Inspectorate of Vietnam, the former State Audit of Vietnam, and other related individuals.

The indictment alleges that the Vingroup, founded by Pham Nhat Vuong, consists of 1,000 subsidiaries and joint ventures managed by her family and relatives. Although she did not hold any position at Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial Joint Stock Bank, as the bank’s main shareholder, she owned between 85% to 91.5% of its shares.

According to Vietnam News Agency, from October 2018 to October 2022, Pham Nhat Vuong and her co-defendants forged 916 loan documents to embezzle 304 trillion Vietnamese dong (approximately $12 billion) from Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial Joint Stock Bank. Bloomberg has called this event “the biggest fraud case in the country’s history.”

Furthermore, Pham Nhat Vuong is also accused of bribing the inspection team of the State Bank of Vietnam, hoping to obtain protection for herself and Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial Joint Stock Bank.

As of now, the trial is ongoing. Among the 86 defendants involved, 70 have been arrested, 11 are out on bail, and 5 are fugitives. The first trial is expected to last until April 29th. According to Vietnamese media, the case files weigh a total of 6 tons. If convicted, Pham Nhat Vuong could face imprisonment or even the death penalty.

This case is part of the Vietnamese government’s anti-corruption campaign in recent years. In the past few months, several high-ranking officials have resigned or been arrested for alleged corruption.