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Ex-chairman of Vietnam’s state-run BIDV Tran Bac Ha dies in prison

Thursday, July 18, 2019, 14:24 GMT+7
Ex-chairman of Vietnam’s state-run BIDV Tran Bac Ha dies in prison
Tran Bac Ha, former chairman of BIDV, is seen in this file photo.

A former powerful banking tycoon has passed away in prison after over seven months being detained on charges of banking misconduct in Vietnam.

Tran Bac Ha, former chairman of the state-run Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV), had died in detention, a source told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Thursday.

Ha was being investigated for his wrongdoings in banking at BIDV.

The source said Ha had been detained at a military prison in Soc Son District, Hanoi, and he died of an illness.

He was admitted to the 105 Military Hospital in the capital on Thursday morning and was pronounced dead upon arrival.

Ha had suffered from terminal liver diseases for years and had once been treated overseas.

In late November 2018, police arrested Ha for a probe into his breaching regulations on banking and other banking-related activities, pursuant to Article 206 of the 2015 Penal Code.

Police officers also probed Tran Luc Lang, ex-deputy general director of BIDV, Kieu Dinh Hoa, former director of the BIDV branch in the north-central province of Ha Tinh, and Le Thi Van Anh, former head of corporate customers at the same branch.

Ha and his four subordinates were indicted for irregularities in providing loans for a project to farm cows in Ha Tinh, leading to losses of hundreds of billions of Vietnamese dong. (VND1 billion = US$43,000)

In late March 2019, Tran Duy Tung, Ha’s 34-year-old son who was board chairman of An Phu Group, based in Quy Nhon City, which is the capital of south-central Binh Dinh Province, was apprehended for fraud as well.

Born in 1956 in Binh Dinh, Ha started working at BIDV, a major bank in Vietnam, in 1981 and retired in 2016.

He was the board chairman of BIDV for eight years and eight months, from January 2008 to September 1, 2016, and was thus considered the powerful ‘soul’ of the lender for a long time.

In June 2018, Ha was expelled from the Communist Party of Vietnam for making many grave mistakes, as concluded by the Party’s Central Inspection Commission, including the lending of VND4,700 billion in a scandal at the now-defunct Vietnam Construction Bank (VNCB), which was bought for zero dong by the State Bank of Vietnam in 2014 and renamed CB Bank.

The commission said that Ha was to chiefly blame for all the wrongdoings of the Party cell at BIDV in the 2010-15 and 2015-20 terms, particularly his approval for the huge loan to 12 companies related to the scandal at the then-VNCB.  

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