Vietnam: Billionaire Sentenced to Death in Fraud Case

Vietnam: Billionaire Sentenced to Death in Fraud Case
Image copyright: Louise Bleakly/Contributor/Moment via Getty Images

The Facts

  • Truong My Lan, the Chairwoman of Vietnamese real estate development company Van Thinh Phat, has been sentenced to death by a Ho Chi Minh City jury on charges of stealing $44B from the Saigon Commercial Bank for over a decade.

  • Truong, 67, is accused of fraudulently taking out loans from the bank over 11 years. Prosecutors said she had her driver withdraw more than $4B in cash over three years and store it in her basement, an amount that could weigh two tons.

The Spin

Narrative A

Vietnam is known for conducting show trials, but the amount of detailed effort prosecutors put into this case shows it may be different this time around. Truong, whose ancestry dates back to Saigon before the Communist government's economic crackdown, has been growing her portfolio for decades, from selling cosmetics to purchasing real estate. She may very well have been trying to bypass the government's strict rules on wealth.

Narrative B

While Vietnam may prosecute some real criminals here and there, its overall anti-corruption agenda appears to be aimed at ousting political rivals and stifling normal business practices. Government officials, for instance, are, out of pure fear of being charged with corruption, refusing to approve investments and thus leaving public programs in limbo. By inhibiting business deals, the ruling party is kneecapping its own state-run economic goals.

Nerd narrative

There's a 5% chance that Vietnam will experience a coup d'etat before 2040, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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