Consequences, Vietnam edition

It often seems that rich people can break the law with no consequences, but once in a while, you come across a story where this isn’t the case.

Vietnam sentences real estate tycoon Truong My Lan to death in its largest-ever fraud case

Real estate tycoon Truong My Lan was sentenced Thursday to death by a court in Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam in the country’s largest financial fraud case ever, state media Vietnam Net said.

I am against the Death penalty, and I think it cannot be defended in any case, least of all an economic case, but it is hard to overstate how large this case is

The 67-year-old chair of the real estate company Van Thinh Phat was formally charged with fraud amounting to $12.5 billion — nearly 3% of the country’s 2022 GDP.

Lan illegally controlled Saigon Joint Stock Commercial Bank between 2012 and 2022 and allowed 2,500 loans that resulted in losses of $27 billion to the bank, reported state media VnExpress. The court asked her to compensate the bank $26.9 million.

Despite mitigating circumstances — this was a first-time offense and Lan participated in charity activities — the court attributed its harsh sentence to the seriousness of the case, saying Lan was at the helm of an orchestrated and sophisticated criminal enterprise that had serious consequences with no possibility of the money being recovered, VnExpress said.

When your fraud can be measured as a percentage of the country’s GDP, you have done some serious fraud, and it will effect a lot of people, either directly or indirectly

Her actions “not only violate the property management rights of individuals and organizations but also push SCB (Saigon Joint Stock Commercial Bank) into a state of special control; eroding people’s trust in the leadership of the Party and State,” VnExpress quoted the judgement as saying.

I don’t care for a second if someone’s action lead people to loose trust in the leadership of Party and State, but the fraud also led to a more serious type of lack of trust

Analysts said the scale of the scam raised questions about whether other banks or businesses had similarly erred, dampening Vietnam’s economic outlook and making foreign investors jittery at a time when Vietnam has been trying to position itself as the ideal home for businesses trying to pivot their supply chains away from China.

The real estate sector in Vietnam has been hit particularly hard. An estimated 1,300 property firms withdrew from the market in 2023, developers have been offering discounts and gold as gifts to attract buyers, and despite rents for mixed-use properties known in Southeast Asia as shophouses falling by a third in Ho Chi Minh City, many in the city center are still empty, according to state media.

I think few of us will cry for the rich factory owners and property tycoons who are loosing money, but underneath them, are a lot of everyday Vietnamese whose job opportunities disappeared because of the foreign investment staying away.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    How long until Trump™ cites this case as a(nother) example of persecuting the rich and successful as “Communism!!1!”?