One of Vietnam's Richest Women Sentenced to Death

Truong My Lan found guilty of embezzling $12.5B from bank she illegally controlled
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2024 2:41 PM CDT
One of Vietnam's Richest Women Sentenced to Death
Truong My Lan is seen during her trial in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on Thursday, April 11, 2024.   (Thanh Tung/VnExpress via AP)

One of Vietnam's richest women has been sentenced to death after a corruption trial that involved thousands of witnesses and more than 80 co-defendants. Property tycoon Truong My Lan, 67, was found guilty of illegally controlling the Saigon Commercial Bank, bribing officials, and embezzling $12.5 billion, CNN reports.

  • The defendant. During the trial, which began March 5, Truong My Lan told judges she started out as a cosmetics trader, helping her mother at a stall in Ho Chi Minh City's central market, reports Reuters. She began buying property after economic reforms in the 1980s and had built a real estate empire by the 1990s.

  • The crime. According to state media, Truong My Lan used shell companies and middlemen to dodge a law against individuals owning more than 5% of a bank. Authorities said she indirectly controlled more than 90% of the SCB, one of the country's biggest banks, between 2011 and 2022 and allowed thousands of loans to shell companies that made their way back to her, the AP reports. Authorities say she bribed officials to avoid scrutiny of the dodgy loans, which cost the bank $27 billion.
  • Co-defendants. According to state media, 84 other defendants in the case received sentences ranging from probation to life in prison, per CNN. Troung My Lan's husband, Hong Kong businessman Eric Chu, was sentenced to nine years in prison.
  • "Blazing Furnaces." This was one of the most high-profile trials in the "Blazing Furnaces" anti-corruption campaign launched by Communist Party Secretary-General Nguyen Phu Trong in 2016, the BBC reports. The campaign has resulted in hundreds of prison sentences and forced many officials—including two presidents and two prime ministers—from office.
  • A possible lifeline. Lawyers say Truong My Lan plans to appeal the verdict. She has been ordered to repay $27 billion, and "some believe the death penalty is the court's way of trying to encourage her to return some of the missing billions," reports the BBC.
(More Vietnam stories.)

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