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Ex-chairman of Vietnam’s OceanBank faces prosecution for role in risky loan

Friday, October 07, 2016, 13:06 GMT+7

The investigative branch of the Vietnamese police ministry suggested an indictment be issued for OceanBank ex-chairman Ha Van Tham for his role in issuing the illegally-granted massive loan the credit institution now risks losing.

After completing a preliminary investigation into the OceanBank case, the police agency has called on prosecutors to indict Tham on charges of “violating lending regulations in the operation of the credit institution,” a chief officer confirmed to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Thursday.

Along with Tham, the agency also suggested prosecuting 15 additional ex-OceanBank personnel on charges of “abusing positions and/or powers while performing official duties” and “intentionally violating state regulations on economic management,” according to the source.

OceanBank’s lending violation is one of six major corruption and economic cases Vietnam is preparing to try between now and the end of the first quarter of next year, under an order from the Central Steering Committee for Anti-Corruption.

Tham was appointed OceanBank chairman in 2007 and was arrested in October 2014 after a probe uncovered that he was granting a company named Trung Dung a VND500 billion (US$23.4 million) loan without security.

Fifteen other conspirators were involved in helping Tham issue the illegal loan, according to investigators.

In November 2012, Trung Dung applied for loans at OceanBank to fund several projects, primarily in the realty sector.

Even after Trung Dung failed to meet collateral and regulatory requirements for the loan, Tham approved a VND500 billion loan for the company upon receiving the application.

Trung Dung has yet to repay the loan and is likely to default on the debt, according to investigators.

Investigators also found that Tham abused his power to request that his employees illegally withdraw money from OceanBank’s budget for personal uses, leading to losses worth trillions of dong which are unlikely to be retrieved. (VND1 trillion = $44.64 million)

Among the 15 conspirators, former CEO Nguyen Xuan Son was identified as Tham’s right-hand man, according to investigators.

As ‘directed’ by Tham, Son abused his power as the CEO in several situations that resulted in nearly VND1.6 trillion ($71.38 million) in total losses for OceanBank.

According to its website, Ocean Bank was founded in 1993 and converted its operation model to a joint stock commercial bank in 2007.

The bank offers customers multi-purpose financial and banking products and services that are suitable for the economic needs and features of each region.

Ocean Bank also develops e-banking services, creating hi-tech and confidential products for corporate and individual customers.

According to the bank's website, Ha Van Tham earned his MBA at the Columbia Commonwealth University, and got his PhD at the Paramount University of Technology.

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