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Court approves Vietnam’s supposedly costliest divorce of couple behind Trung Nguyen coffee brand

Thursday, March 28, 2019, 11:54 GMT+7
Court approves Vietnam’s supposedly costliest divorce of couple behind Trung Nguyen coffee brand
Le Hoang Diep Thao, co-founder of Trung Nguyen Group, tears up as she leaves the courtroom in Ho Chi Minh City on March 27, 2019. Photo: Phuoc Tuan / Tuoi Tre

A court in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday approved the high-profile divorce between the couple who built and ran Trung Nguyen, one of Vietnam’s largest and most well-known coffee producers, finally settling disputes over the division of their property, valued at nearly US$354 million.

The ruling marks the end of a years-long battle between Dang Le Nguyen Vu, chairman of Trung Nguyen Group, and his wife Le Hoang Diep Thao, a co-founder of Trung Nguyen.

Vu, 48, and Thao, 46, co-founded their business in 1996 and transformed it into one of Vietnam’s coffee giants until disagreements between them led the woman to file for divorce in 2015.

Their disputed properties – which include real estate, cash, gold, bank savings and shares in Trung Nguyen and its subsidiaries – are valued at VND8,229 billion (almost $354 million). Their shares in Trung Nguyen were collectively valued at some VND5,737 billion ($246.8 million).

After more than three years of legal proceedings, their divorce was finally approved by the People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday.

The presiding judge of a court in Ho Chi Minh City reads the ruling on the divorce between Dang Le Nguyen Vu, chairman of Trung Nguyen Group, and Le Hoang Diep Thao, co-founder of Trung Nguyen, on March 27, 2019. Photo: Phuoc Tuan / Tuoi Tre

The presiding judge of a court in Ho Chi Minh City reads the ruling on the divorce between Dang Le Nguyen Vu, chairman of Trung Nguyen Group, and Le Hoang Diep Thao, co-founder of Trung Nguyen, on March 27, 2019. Photo: Phuoc Tuan / Tuoi Tre

According the to the court’s decision, Vu will take over Thao’s shares in Trung Nguyen and its subsidiaries, and pay Thao the cash value of her shares.

Their thirteen private properties will be split evenly between the two with Vu keeping six properties, worth a combined VND350 billion ($15 million), and Thao keeping seven, worth a combined VND375 billion ($16.1 million).

Thao will pay Vu VND12.5 billion ($537,000) to cover the difference. 

Their bank savings, cash and gold, totaling VND7,502 billion ($322.7 million) in value, will be split to the ratio of 6:4 in favor of Vu.

Dang Le Nguyen Vu, chairman of Trung Nguyen Group, speaks at a court hearing in Ho Chi Minh City on March 27, 2019. Photo: Phuoc Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Dang Le Nguyen Vu, chairman of Trung Nguyen Group, speaks at a court hearing in Ho Chi Minh City on March 27, 2019. Photo: Phuoc Tuan / Tuoi Tre

The couple were asked to pay more than VND80 billion ($3.4 million) in court fees, though the accuracy of this fee calculation is disputable.

According to calculations by Tuoi Tre News based on provisions of the law, the couple should have been subject to VND8 billion ($344,000) in court fees, approximately one-tenth of the amount asked for by the court.

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