Van Thinh Phat case: With philosophy “buying with lot of money,” can Truong My Lan defeat To Lam?

Tycoon Truong My Lan, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Van Thinh Phat Group

Never before has the philosophy “What cannot be bought with money, can be bought with a lot of money” of gangster Nam Cam, been accepted by Vietnamese state officials and businessmen, tycoons and billionaires, apply it expertly like today.

The Van Thinh Phat case, in which Truong My Lan, as Chairwoman of the Board of Directors, appropriated up to VND304 trillion, is a typical example. Specifically, Lan was willing to “play nice” and bribe a department-level leader, Do Thi Nhan, former Director of Bank Inspection and Supervision Department II – State Bank, with a very large amount of money, up to $5.2 million.

Public opinion sees that this is a disaster of the inspection, supervision and monitoring work of the state apparatus in Vietnam. This case shows extremely large flaws and at the same time reveals serious weaknesses of the state apparatus. A huge “elephant” has passed through the tiny “needle” of the entire state management system in the field of banking and bond issuance.

National Assembly delegate Pham Van Hoa (Dong Thap) made a statement, considered a blockbuster, when he said: “The great Van Thinh Phat case is only the tip of the great exposed disaster.”

Dan Viet newspaper reported on November 21, under the headline “National Assembly member Pham Van Hoa: The Van Thinh Phat case may be just the tip of the broken iceberg.” Accordingly, continuing the program of the 6th Session, on the morning of November 21, the National Assembly discussed in the parliament.

Speaking and discussing the Van Thinh Phat case, Hoa  said that Lan and her accomplices falsified thousands of documents to borrow and misappropriate over VND1,000 trillion of SCB Bank, including over VND500 trillion in customer deposits.

Even the Head of the State Bank’s inspection team received cash bribes of up to $5.2 million. This is the largest cash bribery case ever, and this case has the largest amount of money misappropriated and potentially lost.

According to Hoa, “This case may just be the tip of the broken iceberg, there are other icebergs that have not yet broken.” That means, there are many similar crimes that have not been revealed.

The existence of real estate corporations with cross-ownership and their own banks makes it easy for them to manipulate. That is, they are both bankers and businesses that borrow from banks to trade land, to invest in production… This allows large businesses to easily cheat, in a way, apply for loans with their own money from left hand and lend itself with the right hand.

Through the statement of National Assembly member Hoa, public opinion assesses that the “iceberg” – that is, activities related to credit granting in the Vietnamese banking system – has long been rife violation, but for decades it has not been revealed. The reason is that there is always quite a lot of bribe money for officials responsible for inspecting and supervising the operations of banks. But once they accept bribes, they will “keep their mouths shut and take the money.”

Talking to a reporter from about the above mentioned situation, a retired former leader in the Vietnamese banking system revealed, with the request to remain anonymous due to security issues:

Regarding the negative consequences of banking operations in Vietnam, the World Trade Organization (WTO) 15 years ago warned: Vietnam has too many banks, most of which are small banks with low transparency, especially about cross-ownership in the Vietnamese banking system.”

Saigon SCB Joint Stock Commercial Bank of Lan was born in that context. Van Thinh Phat acquired 3 small banks in 2011, with the largest shareholder, over 90%, being the owner Truong My Lan.

From the beginning, in SCB Bank’s operations, according to the investigation conclusion of the Ministry of Public Security, Van Thinh Phat Group hardly used the payment method of bank transfer, but only used cash. To the extent that cash being transported by car in transactions is extremely unusual.

Furthermore, the purchase and sale of assets and shares of Van Thinh Phat and Lan do not require documents. With such a business method, experts believe that it is in accordance with the mafia gang’s lesson, to serve money laundering. There is no paperwork or evidence, just faith and the laws of the underworld.

So why, for 12 years, did Vietnam’s Economic Security apparatus and intelligence system not detect it and handle it early? Or is it the philosophy, “What cannot be bought with money, can be bought with a lot of money” of gangster Nam Cam, which has penetrated into these fields, including the Ministry of Public Security as well as Minister To Lam? will have answers for you in the following comments section. (Translated)