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$1.1mn disappears from Vietnam Prosperity Bank account; fraud suspected

Thursday, September 01, 2016, 12:17 GMT+7

The director of an agriculture firm in Ho Chi Minh City has accused a local bank of allowing employees to abet scammers in draining more than US$1 million from her account without consent.

With the dispute between Tran Thi Thanh Xuan, director of Quang Huan Co., and Vietnam Prosperity Bank, or VPBank, having remained unsolved for over a year, the city’s administration tasked the municipal economic police on Wednesday with working to resolve the case as soon as possible.

In March 2015, Xuan opened a VPBank account to serve the company’s agricultural trading business.

During that harvest season, the company received VND26 billion (US$1.16 million) in payments from various partners, all transferred to Xuan’s VPBank account, the director said in her complaint.

When Xuan went to withdraw the money in July the same year, she was shocked to see the account balance had fallen to a few hundred dong.

The account statement showed that a number of check issuing transactions had been made from her account.

According to the complaint, the checks had been drawn by Do Dinh Bao and Pham Van Trinh and made payable to Doan Thi Thuy Hang and her husband Nguyen Huy Nhut.

Trinh is the accountant of Quang Huan Co. and Hang was a VPBank employee.

Xuan’s suspicion quickly drew the conclusion that the VPBank employee and her company’s accountant had colluded to forge relevant documents and signatures to issue checks and withdraw money from the director's account.

The director noted that she had never received any notifications of those transactions, even though she had registered for mobile banking services with VPBank.

As Xuan lodged a complaint to VPBank to denounce the alleged fraud, the lender simply responded that Hang had left the bank, and the case was transferred to police for investigation.

Ducked responsibility?

On Wednesday, VPBank said in a press release that it had “strictly followed all relevant procedures” while approving transactions on the account of Quang Huan Co.

The lender added that relevant parties should wait until the police have reached a final conclusion.

VPBank said it had worked with the employees Xuan said held a role in the incident, but all of them denied allegations that they helped the company’s accountant steal the money.

The bank added all of the documents related to the check issuing carry the same signature and seal as registered by Quang Huan Co. when it opened the account.

“For every transaction that changes the company’s account balance, VPBank sent a text message to the registered mobile phone number of Quang Huan, which has been verified as the very phone number of Tran Thi Thanh Xuan, the account owner and company’s legal representative,” the statement reads.

VPBank concluded that the case shows “signs of criminal activity,” adding the ongoing police investigation will shed light on whether or not the relevant documents and signatures were forged.

On Wednesday, Xuan told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that VPBank’s statements to media are false.

Xuan said it is impossible that the accountant Trinh could sign any transaction on her behalf.

“If I had authorized him to do so, he must have used his own signature, rather than faking mine,” she explained.

The company director insisted that VPBank employees had colluded with other people to steal the money, and the lender’s refusal to resolve the case just because “the employee involved no longer works there” is irresponsible.

Xuan said the bank must be held accountable as its employees had finalized all transactions that were not initiated by the real account holder.

“Did the bank ask to see the ID card of the person doing the transactions, as required?” she wondered.

“Why were all the transactions approved at the request of a man, while the account holder is me – a woman?”

Ho Chi Minh City economic police officers are still looking into the case.

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