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May 23
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A court in Vietnam has sentenced real estate tycoon Truong My Lan to death for her role in the biggest financial fraud in the country's history, local Thanh Nien newspaper reports.

The businesswoman is accused of embezzling more than $12 billion, corruption, and violating bank lending rules. She was sentenced to death on the embezzlement charge and 20 years in prison on each other count. Family members said Lan will appeal the court's decision.

Truong My Lan is the chairwoman of real estate developer Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group. According to investigators, through dozens of forgeries, she was able to take over the country's largest Saigon Commercial Bank (SCB) almost entirely by making illegal loans to Van Thinh Phat and other companies. At the same time, shareholders of this bank are allowed to buy no more than five percent of its assets.

The defendant's lawyers argued that she controls only 15 percent of the bank's shares and does not hold a management position in it, which means that the charge of embezzlement is unfounded. However, during the trial, witnesses who are major owners of the bank's shares stated that they acted on behalf of this entrepreneur.

Total loans disbursed amounted to $44 billion, more than 90 percent of loans disbursed between 2012 and 2022. About 12 billion of that went to Van Thinh Phat. The court found that some of the more than 1,000 loans were repaid to Lan, but she still has to pay the bank full compensation.

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