Property tycoon Truong My Lan sentenced to death in $12.5 billion fraud case

World News

A court in Vietnam has sentenced property tycoon Truong My Lan to death for her role in the nation’s largest ever financial fraud case, according to state media Thanh Nien, an unusually severe punishment capping a dramatic trial amid a sweeping government crackdown on corruption.

Vietnamese property tycoon Truong My Lan in court in Ho Chi Minh city on April 11.

AFP via Getty Images

Key Takeaways
  • Lan, the 67-year-old chair of real estate developer Van Thinh Phat (VTP), was sentenced by a court in Ho Chi Minh City for her role in a fraud case amounting to $12.5 billion, nearly 3% of Vietnam’s GDP in 2022.
  • The court found Lan illegally controlled the Saigon Joint Stock Commercial Bank between 2011 and 2022 and used this to siphon funds through ghost companies, covering her tracks by bribing officials.
  • Prosecutors told the court Lan and her accomplices siphoned funds by arranging 2,500 unlawful loans worth billions of dollars to these shell companies, which resulted in losses to the bank of around $27 billion.
  • The verdict, which ultimately found Lan guilty of bribery, embezzlement and violating banking rules, caps a month-long trial that has been covered heavily in state media and reportedly involved hundreds of lawyers, literally tonnes of evidence and thousands of people summoned to testify.
  • The sentence, which also includes 40 years prison time and an order to compensate the bank $27 million, is unusually strict for a woman being sentenced for white collar crime in Vietnam and is speculated to be an attempt to recover more money from Lan.
  • Lan, who denied the charges leveled against her and pleaded not guilty, and Nguyen Huy Thiep, one of her lawyers, told Reuters “of course she will appeal the verdict.”
What To Watch For

Another 85 people are being prosecuted in connection with the fraud case, according to the Associated Press. They reportedly face charges ranging from violating banking law, bribery and abuse of power. According to Thanh Nien, 84 have received sentences, which range from 3 years suspended prison to life imprisonment.

Crucial Quote

In her final remarks to the court last week, Lan appeared to indicate she had experienced thoughts of suicide, according to AFP and state media. “In my desperation, I thought of death,” she said. “I am so angry that I was stupid enough to get involved in this very fierce business environment – the banking sector – which I have little knowledge of.”

Key Background

Lan’s trial comes as part of a broader crackdown on corruption by Vietnam’s communist government. The project, which Vietnam’s general secretary and leader Nguyen Phu Trong dubbed “blazing furnace,” has claimed the careers of two presidents in as many years, as well as thousands of other officials and bureaucrats. Lan was arrested under the corruption drive in 2022.

According to the BBC, Lan comes from a Sino-Vietnamese family in Ho Chi Minh City, which was formerly known as Saigon, and began as a market stall vendor, later founding her real estate company VTP and buying land and property amid economic reforms in the 1980s.

Big Number

6 tonnes. That’s how much the 104 boxes of evidence used in the trial weighed, according to the BBC.

This sotry was first published on and all figures are in USD.

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