The winner of a Vietnamese beauty pageant organized in Moscow nearly a decade ago appeared in court on Wednesday on fraud charges, after conning a local businessman of nearly US$740,000 in 2013.
Truong Ho Phuong Nga, 29, of Vietnamese and Russian nationality, told a court in Ho Chi Minh City such massive amount of money was agreed upon by the two in forming a ‘love contract,’ rather than result of a fraud.
Nguyen Duc Thuy Dung, 27, introducing as Nga’s best friend, also stood at the same court as her accomplice in the case. The victim had transferred the money into the account of Dung instead of Nga.
In 2015 Nga, who was crowned at a pageant held for Vietnamese beauties in Moscow in 2007, was arrested on fraud charges, after a wealthy businessman only known as C.T.M. denounced her for cheating him of VND16.5 billion ($736,607).
Nga had fooled the man into paying the money in different installments to buy several houses at prices cheaper than on the market, but no transactions ever proceeded.
The house buying offers were made after Nga and M. had been in a romantic relationship for three years from 2012, before she knew that the man is already married.
The accused told today court that even though she had made a written receipt for the VND16.5 billion sum to buy houses for M., the document was in fact “an agreement that [I] would live with him without getting married.”
Nga said she had demanded such a guarantee from M. as she did not want him to divorce his wife, but “he should have proof for his love for me.”
The beauty asserted that the money transfer was done “totally voluntarily” from the businessman’s side.
Nga’s testimony at court is however against what she previously said when interrogated by police following her arrest in March 2015. At that time, Nga admitted to having received the massive amount of money to help M. buy some houses at cheap prices.
At the Wednesday’s court, the beauty said she had made such confession under pressure because M. then threatened to defame her as involving in prostitution if she did otherwise.
Asked why she insisted M. transfer money into the account of Dung instead of her own, Nga said as “a member of the show business”, she did not want to attraction attention with too much money in her account.
In the meantime, Dung told the court that everything Nga said is true, adding that the VND16.5 billion is the ‘fee’ for the ‘love contract’ between the two.
The court is poised to make ruling on Thursday.
At 11, Nga moved with her family to Russia, where she grew up and enrolled in a university in Moscow, media reports said.
Ten years later, she returned home and embarked on an artistic career as a model and actress.
She has starred in several films and music videos shot in Vietnam.