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Banking & Finance

Charges laid against Ocean Bank officials

Released at: 15:35, 24/12/2016

Charges laid against Ocean Bank officials

Photo: Duc Anh

Three charges brought against Chairman, CEOs, Deputy CEOs and directors of branches and transaction offices on December 23.

by Duy Anh

The Supreme People’s Procuracy officially filed charges on December 23 against the former Chairman of Ocean Bank, Ha Van Tham, and 47 accomplices for serious violations during their time in charge of the bank.

Tham and the others were charged with “violating lending regulations of credit institutions”, “abusing positions and power while performing official duties”, and “deliberately acting against the State’s regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences”.

Former CEOs Nguyen Minh Thu and Nguyen Xuan Son and Deputy CEOs Nguyen Van Hoan, Le Thi Thuy and Nguyen Minh Phuong count among Tham’s accomplices. The remainder are former directors at branches and transaction offices.

The charge sheet states there were serious violations in the bank’s operating activities, including lending, mobilizing deposits, and paying customers a higher interest rate than the ceiling regulated by the central bank, affecting the implementation of the State’s monetary policy.

For the charge of violating lending regulations of credit institutions, Tham is charged with personally ordering Ocean Bank’s Board of Directors to approve a loan of VND500 billion ($11.1 million) to former Chairman of the Vietnam Construction Bank (VNCB) Pham Cong Danh, who received a 30-year sentence last September for causing losses of VND9 trillion ($396 million) at VNCB.

The amount of the illegal loan ordered by Tham was above regulated limits and the loan was pushed through without collateral, causing a loss of VND343 billion ($15.1 million) for Ocean Bank.

On the charge of abusing positions and power while performing official duties, Son is alleged to have charged customers additional fees via one of Tham’s shell companies - the BSC Co. - causing losses of VND69 billion ($3 million) for the bank.

As for the charge as “deliberately acting against the State’s regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences”, former officials, including Thu, Thuy and Phuong, are alleged to have directed the bank’s operations department to pay interest rates outside of the mobilizing deposits contract, causing a loss of VND1.576 trillion ($69.2 million) for the bank.

Thirty-four other accomplices have been charged with aiding the bank’s officials to conduct illegal activities, causing total losses of VND2 trillion ($88 million).

Under Tham’s direction, Ocean Bank’s bad debts climbed to nearly VND15 trillion ($672.6 million), with pre-tax losses at more than VND10 trillion ($448.4 million) as at March 2014. He was arrested in October 2014, while police from the Ministry of Public Security (C46) arrested Son in July 2015 and Thu in January 2015.

In May 2015 the SBV officially acquired Ocean Bank, gaining all its equity, including its charter capital of some VND4 trillion ($179.3 million), at a price of VND0 per share. The Ocean Bank case is one of six major economic crimes the Central Steering Anti-Corruption Committee asked be brought to trial by the first quarter of 2017 at the latest.

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