Vietnamese Real Estate Tycoon Sentenced to Death in Massive Fraud Trial

( – Sixty-seven-year-old Truong My La Lan, a Vietnamese real estate tycoon, was sentenced to death by a court in Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday, April 11th. The court decided to execute the “world’s wealthiest woman” in a surprise early verdict following the country’s biggest fraud trial. Under Vietnam’s criminal code, Lan may appeal the verdict within 15 days.

Lan was arrested in 2022 for charges including embezzlement of more than $12 billion from one of the country’s largest banks, violating banking regulations, and bribing government officials.

The main charge against Lan for embezzlement earned her the death sentence. The two lesser charges of violating bank law and bribery secured her a sentence of 20 years in prison for each charge. Prosecutors claim the total financial damages in her case totaled around $20 billion which is a whopping 5% of Vietnam’s GDP. More than 1000 properties belonging to Lan were seized.

Lan’s husband, Eric Chu Nap-kee was also charged in the case along with around 85 other people including lawyers and banking regulators. Lan’s niece, Truong Hue Van, was also sentenced to 17 years in prison. Seventy of Lan’s partners in crime were imprisoned along with Lan and her husband at a top-security prison. Ten were placed on house arrest. Five others are “on the run” being urged to surrender.

The court discovered that Lan held more than 91.5% of shares in the Saigon Commercial Bank giving her “almost absolute control” over the bank. She allegedly used “ghost companies” to secure loans for herself and many co-conspirators resulting in extraordinary losses totaling $27 billion from 2012 – 2022.

Lan’s trial is part of a government campaign against corruption launched in 2016 by the leader of Vietnam’s Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong. Trong’s campaign has caused ruination for several top officials and business leaders. Former President Vo Van Thuong resigned in March due to corruption allegations.

Duc Truong, attorney for Lan, declined to comment.

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