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Truong My Lan: Vietnam billionaire facing death penalty in fraud amounting to country’s 6% GDP

Top Vietnamese property tycoon Truong My Lan- chair of major developer Van Thinh Phat- could face a death sentence as she awaits verdict in one of the biggest corruption cases with an estimated $27 billion in damages. Truong My Lan is accused of taking cash from Saigon Commercial Bank (SCB) for over a decade. She faces the sentencing along with 85 others on charges ranging from bribery, abuse of power, appropriation and violations of banking law. Truong My Lan is married to a wealthy Hong Kong businessman who is also on trial as he is accused of setting up fake loan applications to withdraw money from SCB.

Business woman Truong My Lan, front center, attends a trial in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The real estate tycoon may face the death penalty if convicted of allegations that she siphoned off an amount of $12.5 billion.(AP)

Here’s all you need to know about Truong My Lan and the allegations against her:

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What are the charges against Truong My Lan?

Prosecutors said that Truong My Lan allegedly embezzled $12.5 billion. The total damages caused by the scam amount to $27 billion- equivalent to six per cent of the country’s 2023 GDP. She has denied all the charges and blamed her subordinates for the scam.

Will she face a death sentence?

Prosecutors called for Truong My Lan to face the death sentence- a severe punishment in such a case after she was arrested as part of a national corruption crackdown. Prosecutors said that they had seized more than 1,000 properties belonging to her while authorities said that the $5.2 million allegedly given by her and some SCB bankers to state officials was the largest-ever bribe recorded in Vietnam.

What Truong My Lan said in court?

In final remarks to the court last week, Truong My Lan said that she had thoughts of suicide.

“In my desperation, I thought of death,” she said, adding, “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.”

Why were there protests after Truong My Lan’s arrest?

Hundreds of people staged protests in the capital Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City after Truong My Lan’s arrest in October 2022.

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