Nguyen Cao Tri, general director of Saigon - Dai Ninh Tourist Investment JSC, was apprehended seven months ago for allegedly appropriating over US$40 million from Truong My Lan, chairwoman of property developer Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group Corporation, Lieutenant General To An Xo, spokesperson of the Ministry of Public Security, told a press briefing on Saturday.
Lieutenant General Xo said that Tri, 53, was prosecuted and arrested on January 15 for allegedly abusing trust to misappropriate property.
The arrest was part of an ongoing expanded probe into a major fraud case at Van Thinh Phat’s affiliate An Dong Investment Group Corporation.
Investigators said that Truong My Lan had set up a business relationship with Tri. She transferred over $40 million to Tri for trading property projects.
After Lan was detained for allegedly committed fraud in the issuance and trading of bonds in order to appropriate thousands of billions of Vietnamese dong of investors in the 2018-19 period, Tri embezzled the money.
Tri directed his subordinates to eliminate all papers and documents related to Lan’s transfer to appropriate over $40 million.
He confessed his asset appropriation, and was committed to paying back the sum of money. His assets have been frozen for investigation.
Tri is a business tycoon in Ho Chi Minh City, running several property, finance, education, and restaurant service enterprises, Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper reported.
Among them are Capella Holdings, Capella Hospitality Company, and Riverside Palace Trading and Services Corporation.
Tri held many top posts at some of Ben Thanh Group’s member companies, including investment director at Ben Thanh Tourist from 1995 to 2005, and general director of Ben Thanh Land.
He joined the board of directors at the Saigon Bank for Industry and Trade (Saigonbank, or SGB) in October 2021 after purchasing nearly 579,200 SGB shares, equivalent to a 0.19-percent stake in the bank, in June 2021.
On March 11, the Ministry of Public Security filed charges against Nguyen Ngoc Anh, chief inspector in Lam Dong Province, located in the Central Highlands region, for allegedly taking bribes.
He was found being involved in a long-stalled $1-billion tourism project invested in by Saigon - Dai Ninh Tourist Investment JSC.
Anh was involved in the process of inspecting violations in land use, handover, and management as well as forest land handover at the mammoth tourism project.
The provincial administration issued an investment certificate to the project, which was set to cover some 3,600 hectares of land in Duc Trong District, in late 2010.
The project was slated for completion in 2018. However, after 13 years, no components of the project were finished, reported Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper.
In July 2020, the Government Inspectorate ordered the Lam Dong Province People’s Committee to stop the project and take back its land.
However, the investor wrote to multiple competent agencies proposing that they re-consider the revocation.
A year later, the Government Inspectorate asked the provincial administration to extend the project’s deadline.
An inspection team in charge of checking the accountability of the investor included Nguyen Ngoc Anh.
Truong My Lan, founder and chairwoman of property developer Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group, was arrested for alleged fraud related to the issuance and trading of bonds worth trillions of Vietnamese dong in October last year.
Investigators also pressed charges against three others linked to the company for allegedly appropriating assets.
They are Truong Hue Van, CEO of Windsor Property Management Group Corporation; Nguyen Phuong Hong, an assistant at Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group Corporation; and Ho Buu Phuong, former board chairman at Tan Viet Securities JSC and former deputy general director for finance at Van Thinh Phat.
Lan established Van Thinh Phat in 1991, according to the company's website.
It operated as a restaurant and hotel company before growing into property development, developing many projects in prime locations in Ho Chi Minh City.