World News

Vietnam prosecutes bank officials in corruption crackdown

(This version of Nov 24th’s story corrects para 8 to say former CEO was not among the five people prosecuted)

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam has prosecuted five former officials of the unlisted Dong A Bank for violating rules that “lead to serious consequences”, police said on Friday, part of a widening investigation involving the Ho Chi Minh City-based lender.

Energy and banking firms are at the heart of a sweeping crackdown on corruption in the communist state, a campaign that made global headlines this year when Germany accused Vietnam of kidnapping a Vietnamese businessman in Berlin.

The troubled, partly private Dong A Bank is among several lenders under scrutiny of the authorities who say they want to tackle corruption, including abuse of power and violation of lending rules.

“The Investigation Police Department of the Ministry of Public Security is urgently investigating the case,” police said in a statement.

“Abuse of trust to appropriate assets, deliberate violation of state regulations on economic management that led to serious consequences and the violation of lending provisions ... occurred at Dong A Commercial Joint Stock Bank (DAB),” police said.

The five former officials were banned from leaving their homes, police said.

Dong A Bank said it would respond to a Reuters request for comment later in the day.

The bank’s former chief executive officer Tran Phuong Binh was arrested in 2016 along with four other executives.

The central bank, the State Bank of Vietnam, had placed Dong A Bank under special supervision in 2015 “for violations in financial management and credit grants” by some executives.

The ministry of public security said in a statement on Friday that 17 people have been arrested in the Dong A Bank fraud case.

Reporting by Mai Nguyen in HANOI; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Robert Birsel