In Vietnam, a court has sentenced real estate magnate Truong My Lan to death for her role in a financial fraud case worth the equivalent of more than eleven billion euros. According to state media reports, the verdict in the country’s largest fraud case was made on Thursday. Lan, the CEO of real estate developer Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group, was found guilty of embezzlement, bribery and violating banking regulations. There was no immediate comment from Lan’s lawyers. Even before the verdict was announced, a family member said Lan would appeal. Now they said they would keep fighting and see what they could do.

It was not immediately clear how Lan pleaded, but state media quoted prosecutors as saying she had pleaded not guilty. According to the Thanh Nien newspaper, 84 defendants in this case were sentenced to prison sentences ranging from three years’ probation to life in prison.

The trial began on March 5 and ended earlier than planned. It is part of the fight against corruption that the leader of the ruling Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong, has been promising to eradicate for years. However, the campaign has so far produced few tangible results. As a result of the campaign, hundreds of senior civil servants and major business managers were prosecuted or forced to resign.

According to investigators, Lan and her accomplices were accused of diverting more than 304 trillion dong, the equivalent of 11.61 billion euros, from the Saigon Joint Stock Commercial Bank (SCB), which they de facto controlled through dozens of authorized representatives. From the beginning of 2018 to October 2022, when the state rescued SCB after a run on its deposits, Lan appropriated large sums of money by arranging illegal loans to shell companies, investigators said. She is also said to have bribed officials.

The government of the communist-ruled country has been taking increased action against corruption for several years. Since 2021, 1,700 cases have been initiated against more than 4,400 people, including well-known former businessmen and ministers. However, it is unusual for the death penalty to be imposed for financial crimes. It is not clear how many death sentences are actually carried out in the country. Amnesty International estimates there are a few dozen every year.

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