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Vietnam cbank allows beleaguered DongA Bank to nominate new boss

Monday, August 24, 2015, 13:48 GMT+7

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) will not appoint a new general director for DongA Bank, whose CEO was suspended last week for investigation, but it has instead allowed the lender to choose a qualified nominee, a top official of the country’s central bank said.

The SBV had previously decided to assign an executive from the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) to take over the position at DongA Bank, after putting the bank under special supervision on August 14 and suspending CEO Tran Phuong Binh a week later.

But such a plan was scrapped, Nguyen Hoang Minh, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City branch of the SBV, confirmed to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Sunday.

The central bank has reviewed the operations of the beleaguered lender over the past few days, and decided that it is healthy enough to choose a new boss on its own, according to a source with knowledge of the decision.

DongA Bank is thus urged to find a qualified candidate to fill in the vacancy of its top executive, and submit the nomination to the central bank for approval, Minh said.

Nguyen An, deputy general director of DongA Bank, has been selected to temporarily take the helm at the lender to ensure normal and stable operations while waiting for a new boss to be chosen, the bank’s board of directors announced on Monday. An, 46, has been working at the Ho Chi Minh City-based bank since 1993, and was appointed deputy CEO in March 2008.

DongA Bank has been found violating many regulations on financial management, credit granting and other businesses, which already caused serious consequences, the SBV said in an announcement of the results of its comprehensive inspection of the lender’s operations from the year 2012 backward.

CEO Binh and one of his deputies, Nguyen Thi Ngoc Van, have been suspended and are under investigation for their roles in the bank’s wrongdoings.

A DongA Bank representative told Tuoi Tre on Sunday they are strictly following the special supervision regulations, which include preparing plans to restructure the bank’s operations and improve its financial ability.

Ex-CEO apologizes

DongA Bank had had 23 years of history and around seven million customers by the time it was dealt a tough hand by the central bank.

In 2014, the lender only posted a pretax profit of VND35 billion (US$1.61 million), a massive 96 percent decline from 2013, and did not pay dividends to its shareholders that year.

On Saturday, ex-CEO Binh wrote a letter of apology to the bank’s staff, customers and shareholders, admitting that he had “made decisions and released policies” during the hard economic times which led to today’s poor business results.

The banker, who started steering DongA Bank in 1998, said he accepted the suspension and is willing to take responsibility for what he has done.

“I convey my sincere apologies to more than seven million customers who have trusted DongA Bank in the past 23 years for the troubles it caused them during the first days after it was placed under special supervision,” the letter reads.

Binh also said sorry to the bank shareholders for worrying them, but he asserted he is confident that DongA Bank can “rebuild its reputation” in the future.

DongA Bank used to be a strong player in the retail and card sectors before falling into a crisis.

“DongA Bank is basically a lender with a strong network, good technology and a not-so-bad workforce,” SBV governor Nguyen Van Binh told reporters in a recent meeting.

“It has business experience, [but] is quite conservative in terms of credit growth.”

The lender’s credit growth rate last year was only one percent, whereas its non-performing loan ratio was 3.7 percent.

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