Vietnam banking tycoon given 30-year jail term

Vietnam banking tycoon given 30-year jail term
Former Vietnamese banking tycoon Nguyen Duc Kien (C), 50, stands listening to the verdict read at the Hanoi People's Court on June 9, 2014.

HANOI - A Vietnamese court on Monday sentenced a disgraced banking tycoon to 30 years in jail over a multi-million dollar scandal that shocked the nation's already fragile financial markets.

Nguyen Duc Kien, 50, was found guilty of fraud, tax evasion, illegal trade and "deliberate wrongdoing causing serious consequences," according to the verdict read at the Hanoi People's Court.

Kien - a shareholder in some of Vietnam's largest financial institutions and a founder of Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) - and his accomplices were accused of causing losses of US$67 million (S$83 million) through illegal cross-bank deposits and investments.

He denied the charges against him, but was imprisoned for three decades and handed a 75 billion dong (S$ 4.3 million) fine.

"The accused was not honest and so must be given serious punishment in line with his crime," court president Nguyen Huu Chinh said at the end of the two-week trial Monday.

Kien appeared in the dock Monday wearing a white shirt and dark trousers, surrounded by policemen, looking calm and at times wryly amused as legal officials read the lengthy verdict against him.

"Using sophisticated and cunning measures and abusing loopholes in the law (the defendants) raised money under false pretences and had that money flowing from bank-to-bank," the court president said.

In so doing, Kien and his co-defendants "monopolised domestic financial and monetary markets, adversely affecting the state's financial market management policy," he said, adding there could have been "very serious" consequences had the government not intervened when it did.

The flamboyant multi-millionaire was on trial alongside seven other defendants, all top bankers at ACB, which counts global banking giant Standard Chartered as one of its "strategic partners".

The other defendants were also present in court Monday, wearing dark blue uniforms provided by police.

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