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defrauded 90 billion and deceived Li Ka-shing, the richest woman in Vietnam was arrested: 6 tons of files and 2,700 summonses

defrauded 90 billion and deceived Li Ka-shing, the richest woman in Vietnam was arrested: 6 tons of files and 2,700 summonses

defrauded 90 billion and deceived Li Ka-shing, the richest woman in Vietnam was arrested: 6 tons of files and 2,700 summonses

Text / Degree Zero

The largest fraud case in Vietnam's history has finally come to an end.

According to the Vietnam News Agency, Singapore's "Lianhe Zaobao" and other media reported on the 19th, the prosecutor asked for the death penalty for Zhang Meilan, a Vietnamese real estate developer and the richest woman suspected of participating in the embezzlement of $12 billion in assets, for being involved in fraud and corruption cases.

Prosecutors in the case said Ms. Zhang had embezzled more than $12 billion over a decade. According to previous reports, the court said that the total losses caused by Zhang Meilan's related cases have now reached $27 billion.

Zhang Meilan, known as Asia's biggest financial fraudster, has worked hard to become the richest woman in Vietnam in 30 years, but now, she has fallen from the "altar" in an unimaginable way.

defrauded 90 billion and deceived Li Ka-shing, the richest woman in Vietnam was arrested: 6 tons of files and 2,700 summonses

Backtracking:

The history of the richest woman in Vietnam 

Truong My Lan has been a central figure in Vietnam's financial community.

In 1992, Zhang Meilan founded VTP Group, which is engaged in real estate, finance, catering, hotel and other businesses. In October 2022, Truong My Lan was arrested by Vietnamese police on suspicion of embezzlement of property, bribery and violation of credit agency lending regulations.

Looking back on the past 30 years, Zhang Meilan has gone from being unknown to becoming the richest woman in Vietnam, and this journey has been wonderful and full of ups and downs.

Zhang Meilan, nicknamed "Zhang Mei", was born in Saigon, Vietnam in 1956, and her ancestral home is Shantou, Guangdong, China.

defrauded 90 billion and deceived Li Ka-shing, the richest woman in Vietnam was arrested: 6 tons of files and 2,700 summonses

When Teo Mei Lan was born, her family had already made their way in Saigon, and she also showed great talent and interest in business. When she was studying, she sold the items she got from her own channels to her classmates and successfully earned the first pot of gold in her life.

After founding VTP, Cheung Meilan began to engage in trading business, and the following year she married Hong Kong businessman Chu Liji, and they obtained the agency rights for LG products. At that time, Vietnam had just "reformed and opened up", and with the rapid development of the economy, she realized that real estate was a profitable business.

Since then, VTP has ventured into the real estate business and has grown to become the largest private real estate company in Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City's landmark Saigon Times Square, and the Windsor Hotel, the venue of APEC in 2006, are her properties. After becoming rich through real estate, Truong My Lan's business territory gradually expanded to the whole of Vietnam, and she is considered to be the "richest woman in Vietnam".

It is worth mentioning that because of the need for funds for large-scale land hoarding, Zhang Meilan decided to pull Li Ka-shing, who is also a "fellow villager" in Shantou, to enter the bureau and cooperate together.

In April 2022, representatives of the Li Ka-shing family's Cheung Kong and Japan's ORIX participated in the Investment Promotion Action Week held in Ho Chi Minh City, and it was VTP Group that invited them. At that time, the news that "Li Ka-shing will invest in Vietnam" once became a hot topic of public opinion.

However, the cooperation has not yet been reached, and half a year later, the Vietnamese police announced a bombshell news: the arrest of Zhang Meilan, chairman of VTP Group.

Zhang Meilan was charged with embezzlement of property, bribery and violation of credit agency lending regulations.

According to the Vietnam News Agency, between October 2018 and October 2022, Truong My Lan and her co-defendants falsified 916 loan information to meet their personal needs, and defrauded Saigon Commercial Joint Stock Bank of 304 trillion VND (about US$12 billion) in total. The bank has so far failed to make the payment and has incurred more than VND 129.4 trillion in interest.

According to Vietnamese media reports quoted by foreign media, one night in October 2022, Zhang Meilan was arrested by Vietnamese police when she was preparing to sleep. The news immediately caused panic among depositors of Saigon Commercial Bank, leading to a run on withdrawals at the bank, which was later controlled by the Central Bank of Vietnam and assured depositors that their deposits were safe.

I saw her rise from a tall building, I saw her feasting guests, and now, I saw her building collapse.

defrauded 90 billion and deceived Li Ka-shing, the richest woman in Vietnam was arrested: 6 tons of files and 2,700 summonses

Trial 

A rare verdict: 6 tons of documents and 2,700 people were summoned to appear in court 

A few days ago, Vietnam's biggest financial fraud case finally came to an end.

Citing local reports, after a month-long trial, the Ho Chi Minh City People's Court in Vietnam sentenced Zhang Meilan, the former chairman of Vietnam's Van Thinh Phat Group (VTP) and Vietnam's richest woman, to death in the first instance.

defrauded 90 billion and deceived Li Ka-shing, the richest woman in Vietnam was arrested: 6 tons of files and 2,700 summonses

Local police in Vietnam accused VTP Chairman Truong My Lan of bribing 27 people to try to buy Saigon Commercial Bank and illegally control more than 90% of the bank's shares. It is said that between 2012 and October 2022, Truong My Lan and her accomplices applied for loans of more than US$43 billion from Saigon Commercial Bank, accounting for 11% of Vietnam's GDP in 2022, which can be said to be not only the largest financial fraud case ever recorded in Vietnam, but also one of the largest financial fraud cases in Asia.

Vietnamese police said at the time that Truong My Lan's private driver had secretly transported millions of dollars in cash on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon). Twenty-four government officials who oversee the security of the banking system allegedly accepted money from Ms. Zhang to help her cover up irregularities.

About 2,700 people were summoned to testify in the course of the case, with prosecutors from 10 districts and more than 200 lawyers participating. The evidence related to the case adds up to 104 boxes with a total weight of 6 tons.

Zhang Meilan was tried with 85 other defendants, all of whom were found guilty, four of whom were sentenced to life imprisonment, while the rest were sentenced to various sentences ranging from three to 20 years. Among them, Zhang Meilan's husband Zhu Liji was sentenced to nine years in prison, and Zhang Meilan's niece Zhang Huiyun was sentenced to 17 years in prison.

Prosecutors in the case said Ms. Zhang had embezzled more than $12 billion over the past decade. According to previous reports, the court said that the total losses caused by Zhang Meilan's related cases have now reached $27 billion.

Is the death penalty for financial fraud excessive?

It is reported that the judgment requires him to return $27 billion, but prosecutors believe that the money may never be recovered. Others believe that the death penalty was imposed because the court wanted to urge her to return some of the funds.

defrauded 90 billion and deceived Li Ka-shing, the richest woman in Vietnam was arrested: 6 tons of files and 2,700 summonses

 focus 

Can the Vietnamese version of "Xu Jiayin" sell a house to save his life?

By the time of Zhang's arrest, VTP Group had become a business empire with more than 1,000 companies and hundreds of legal representatives. Its more than 1,000 enterprises can be divided into four categories: financial institutions represented by Saigon Commercial Bank, companies engaged in business activities in Vietnam (mainly real estate, restaurants and hotels), "ghost" companies whose main task is to help the group engage in bank borrowing and other businesses, and companies responsible for managing the Truong My Lan family's overseas funds and assets.

Zhang Meilan is like the Vietnamese version of Xu Jiayin. The development trajectory of VTP Group is almost the same as that of China Evergrande, relying on "leverage" and constantly expanding the scale until it explodes.

In addition, VTP Group has more than 1,000 subsidiaries in Vietnam, including three banks. It is worth mentioning that Evergrande once spent a huge amount of money to buy 36.4% of the equity of Shengjing Bank, becoming the largest shareholder of Shengjing Bank. After the explosion of Evergrande, these shares were sold to Shenyang Shengjing Financial Holding Group, and the controlling stake of Shengjing Bank was also returned to Shenyang State-owned Assets.

Back at Chang's trial, she pleaded with the court for leniency and humanitarian criminal policies to ease the suffering of her husband, Zhu Liji, and niece, Zhang Huiyun.

According to Hong Kong media reports, after the case of Zhang Meilan, her husband Chu Liji quickly sold properties in Hong Kong in a row. These include hotels and luxury properties, such as the Bungalow, which was reportedly sold for HK$300 million, Win Property in Central changing hands for HK$6.4 billion, the Quarry Bay residential site sold for HK$430 million, and a hotel in North Point sold for HK$468 million.

But it remains to be seen whether such a sell-off will be used to repay debts and whether it will save Zhang Meilan's life.

defrauded 90 billion and deceived Li Ka-shing, the richest woman in Vietnam was arrested: 6 tons of files and 2,700 summonses

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