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Vietnam seeks to arrest lenders for alleged fraud after bank run

BLOOMBERG – Vietnam’s police issued arrest warrants for two former chairs of Saigon Commercial Bank, which experienced a bank run last year after customers feared the lender was tied to a real estate conglomerate under investigation for fraud.

The Ministry of Public Security charged the bank’s former chairman Dinh Van Thanh with alleged asset embezzlement and violations of banking operation regulations, according to a statement on the ministry’s website.

Police also announced a nationwide hunt for the bank’s former chairwoman Nguyen Thi Thu Suong and ex-deputy chief executive Chiem Minh Dung, who have been charged with alleged banking regulation violations.

A representative for Saigon Commercial Bank was not immediately available for comment.

Police are also seeking the arrests of three board members and a former deputy director of one of the bank’s branches.

Vietnam’s central bank spent a week last October calming markets and depositors after police detained Truong My Lan, chairwoman of real estate conglomerate Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group, and other company officials. They were connected with an investigation into the issuance and trading of bonds of related companies where trillions of dong were allegedly misappropriated in 2018 and 2019.

At the time, customers of Saigon Commercial Bank feared the lender was tied to the investigation, though government agencies and newspapers reported no evidence of a link.

The rumours prompted depositors to quickly pull savings from the bank.

Police announced earlier this month that they’re seeking assistance from investors in an ongoing investigation into real estate firm Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group.

Customers line up at a Saigon Commercial Bank branch in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
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