HANOI: A former deputy governor of Vietnam’s central bank was jailed for three years Monday (Jul 2) for negligence after he oversaw a dodgy restructuring scheme that lost the state US$600 million.
Dang Thanh Binh is the most senior State Bank of Vietnam official ever jailed and joins scores of bankers already behind bars for the multi-million dollar scam.
Vietnam’s conservative leadership has targeted the corruption-plagued banking sector with impunity as its sweeping anti-graft campaign picks up steam.
Both state-run and private banks have found themselves in the crosshairs of the campaign but Binh is the first and most senior state bank official to be convicted.
The court said Binh oversaw the restructuring of private Vietnam Construction Bank (VNCB) in a dodgy deal that caused losses of more than US$600 million.
He was sentenced to three years in jail Monday for “negligence causing serious consequences” over the huge scheme, a court clerk confirmed to AFP.
Binh colluded with VNCB boss Pham Cong Danh, who has already been jailed for 30 years for his role.
State media said Binh knew the restructuring was causing major losses but failed to report it – or stop it.
“Dang Thanh Binh knew of the report on mistakes at VNBC but did not provide measures to fix the problem,” state-run VNExpress said.
“Binh’s actions aided bank chairman Pham Cong Danh … to cause losses of US$635 million,” it continued.
The State Bank of Vietnam later acquired VNCB for US$0 to save it from folding.
Binh denied any wrongdoing in the week-long trial in Ho Chi Minh City, which follows the convictions of more than 60 others connected to the case since last year.
Vietnam’s notorious banking sector is plagued by bad debts, corruption and nepotism.
Though the communist country has enjoyed strong economic growth in recent years – GDP expanded by 7.08 per cent in the first half of 2018 – progress is dragged by endemic corruption.
The country’s public debt is soaring and long-promised reforms of bloated state-run enterprises have stalled, leaving the government cash-strapped.
The banking sector has come under fire since a hardline administration took over two years ago.
Harsh sentences have been doled out – including the death penalty given to the former head of Ocean Bank Nguyen Xuan Son.
His misdeeds have been linked to the country’s largest oil firm, PetroVietnam (PVN), another high-profile target of the administration’s crackdown.
Several former PVN executives have been jailed for corruption, including former politburo member Dinh La Thang who lost his appeal bid last week and will now serve 30 years on two separate convictions.