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Vietnam tycoon sentenced to 30 years for fraud

June 9, 2014

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A Vietnamese court sentenced one of the country’s richest men to 30 years in prison on Monday after finding him guilty of financial crimes involving millions of dollars.

Nguyen Duc Kien, a flamboyant businessman who also headed the Hanoi ACB football club, was arrested in 2012. The move was seen as part of the fallout of a power struggle among factions in the ruling Communist Party and allied business tycoons.

State media reported that Kien was found guilty of fraud, tax evasion, illegal trade and “deliberate wrongdoing” in scams at investment companies run by him.

The Laborer newspaper quoted judges as saying “a severe punishment was needed since Kien, the main culprit, did not show sincerity.”

He was also ordered to pay a fine of 75 billion dong ($3.6 million), it said.

Kien was the founder of Asia Commercial Bank, one of Vietnam’s largest. He was a board member of the bank but stepped down before his arrest, which triggered a run on the bank’s deposits and a massive drop in the stock market. Seven other bank executives were also sentenced in connection with the case.

Vietnam’s banking sector is plagued by high levels of bad debt, which have dragged down economic growth in recent years and caused public anger at the one-party government. Much of the debt is owed by state-owned and politically connected conglomerates.

The government has pledged to make the debtors pay and clean up the banking system, but most observers say the reforms have not been far-reaching enough.

Update hourly