A Vietnam appeal court on Monday upheld the 30-year sentence for a former banking tycoon for his key role in a multi-million dollar financial scandal for which he was tried in June this year on four charges, along with his five accomplices.
Nguyen Duc Kien, 50, ex-deputy chairman of the Board of Management of Asia Commercial Bank (ACB), was convicted in the June trial of illegal trading, tax evasion, fraud and “deliberately acting against the State’s regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences,” the Supreme People’s Court in Hanoi said. He appealed his 30-year sentence, claiming to be innocent. The five other defendants, who are ex-top bankers at ACB, also appealed their verdicts. Yesterday, after a ten-day appeal hearing for them in Hanoi, the top court turned down Kien’s appeal, affirming that he was guilty of the four above charges, as previously convicted by the first instance court. As in the first instance trial, Kien continued to claim that he was innocent, but the jury entirely rejected his claim by his lawyer and concluded that there was no ground to give him a commutation. The appeal court also ordered Kien to pay a fine of VND75.1 billion (US$3.5 million).
Of the other five defendants, only one received a jail term reduction, while the other four saw no changes to their verdicts. All of them were charged with “deliberately acting against the State’s regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences.” Le Vu Ky, 58, a former vice chairman of the ACB board of management, was given a two-year commutation from the five-year sentence he received at the first instance trial.
Meanwhile, former CEO Ly Xuan Hai, 49; a former deputy chairman of the ACB board, Trinh Kim Quang, 60; another former deputy chairman, Pham Trung Cang, 60; and former board member Huynh Quang Tuan, 56, saw their jail terms upheld: eight years for Hai, four years for Quang, three years for Cang and two years for Tuan.
According to the indictment, in 2011 Kien and his five accomplices directed their employees make deposits of some VND719 billion (US$33.6 million) at Vietinbank to gain annual interest, despite the prevailing regulation that banks in Vietnam are banned from depositing money in other banks to earn interest.
The entire deposit amount was later appropriated by Huynh Thi Huyen Nhu, 36, a Vietinbank executive, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in January on charges of “swindling to appropriate assets” and “counterfeiting seals and materials of agencies and organizations.” Nhu later appealed the sentence, and her appeal hearing also opened on Monday.
Ex-tycoon Kien was also charged with evading a total tax amount of VND25 billion ($1.17 million) through his six companies.
He was also been found forging documents to defraud the steel firm Hoa Phat Group of VND264 billion ($12.3 million) by selling 20 million Hoa Phat shares of the group while these shares had been used as security for bank loans.
In addition, Kien was also indicted for illegal gold and stock trading activities in 2007-2008, with the total value of his deals amounting to VND21.5 trillion ($1 billion).
For these offenses, the multi-millionaire banker, once one of the richest men in Vietnam and the chairman of Hanoi's professional soccer club, was arrested in August 2012.